Trump admin moves to remove bomb-sniffing dogs from travel hubs

The administration justified the cut by saying state and local law enforcement should be responsible for monitoring and responding to threats


Clayton Guse
New York Daily News

WASHINGTON — Travellers could see fewer bomb-sniffing dogs in airports and train stations if President Trump gets his way.

Trump’s proposed 2021 budget released to Congress last week includes plans to eliminate a program that deploys dog teams to detect explosives at crowded travel hubs across the country.

NYPD Counterterrorism Officer Frisna and his dog stand outside Penn Station in Manhattan. Under a proposed federal budget measure, the VIPR teams currently patroling many major transit hubs will be eliminated. (Photo/TNS)
NYPD Counterterrorism Officer Frisna and his dog stand outside Penn Station in Manhattan. Under a proposed federal budget measure, the VIPR teams currently patroling many major transit hubs will be eliminated. (Photo/TNS)

Last year’s budget allocated $59 million for 31 of the dog units, formally called Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Teams. Trump wants to slash those figures to zero.

“As state and local law enforcement agencies already monitor and maintain jurisdiction in these areas, the VIPR Teams’ efforts are duplicative and unnecessary,” the White House wrote in justifying the cut. “In addition, VIPR Team performance measures fail to articulate program effectiveness, and lack demonstrable results.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer said he was blindsided by the proposal and vowed to fight for funding for the dog teams.

“None of them are as good as these, none of them are as mobile as these,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of the VIPR Team dogs at a news conference Sunday. “These are the most highly trained dogs, and they’re the best.”

Dogs aren’t the only facet of national security the White House proposes to cut this year.

The budget also contains $84 million in cuts to Transportation Security Administration staffers who monitor access to secure areas of airports, and instead asks to shift those responsibilities onto private airline operators.

Under the proposal, state and local governments would also lose $46 million worth of grants used to beef up airport security. Those grants were created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

“This is just pushing the cost from the feds to the city, any city,” Schumer said of the cuts. “But terror threats are of national concern, and New York, other big cities and transit hubs should not be shouldering the brunt of these security costs.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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