Cantwell: Sea-Tac Needs More Bomb-Sniffing Canines to Meet Challenges of Busiest Summer Yet

Working with Sea-Tac, Senator to propose legislation to expand capacity, expedite use of bomb-sniffing, line-shortening dogs at airports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced plans for a new bill to allow airports like Sea-Tac to hasten deployment of more bomb-sniffing canine units to their security lines. Stationing these highly-trained animals at security checkpoints cuts security lines almost in half while maintaining a high level of safety.

With reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) on the Congressional agenda this summer, the timing is right for airport security legislation.

“Sea-Tac is too important to our region and economy to have two hour wait times, missed flights, and customer frustration,” said Senator Cantwell. “Working with Sea-Tac, I am proposing a new bill that would allow local airports to help facilitate the training of new passenger screening canine units. The new canines would improve growing security lines and overall airport security. 

The bill would use federal funding to train new dogs at qualified facilities outside the airports. This would allow more dogs to be trained and on duty faster to meet demand across the country.

“These dogs are so valuable to our ability to meet passenger screening wait time goals, and the national shortage of these canines is a source of frustration for many of us. We understand that TSA is subject to the funding decisions of Congress, and that is why Senator Cantwell’s legislation to allow airports to contribute funds to supplement the cost of this training is so vitally important,” said Wendy Reiter, Director of Security and Emergency Preparedness at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Senator Cantwell also called on the TSA to honor previous commitments it has made to manage security wait times and maintain passenger safety at Sea-Tac, one of the nation’s fastest-growing airports, ahead of an expected surge in travelers this summer.

“As we consider the FAA Reauthorization bill that must be passed before September, I will continue to ensure TSA has the resources to incorporate the latest technology into their security solutions. More efficient checkpoints and more effective equipment is being installed at airports around the world, and we need to start incorporating more cutting edge technology as part of our screening process to improve both security and the experience for passengers,” the senator continued.

In response to SeaTac’s record-setting growth, Cantwell worked with the airport and TSA to dedicate additional security personnel, canine units, and other resources to the airport in 2016. While improvements were made during last year’s high-traffic season, the TSA must provide more canine units and sustain existing support in other areas to meet the expected uptick in traffic.

Cantwell was joined at the event by Port of Seattle Director of Security and Emergency Preparedness Wendy Reiter and Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman.