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Eye On Customs and Border Protection

By Ed O'Keefe

Anyone who's traveled through an international airport or crossed the U.S. border with Canada or Mexico has probably seen a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer inspecting automobiles, baggage and people with the assistance of a canine colleague. While the work is fun and rewarding, it's much more complex than just walking a dog.

In the third installment of the "Eye On..." video profile series, The Eye and indefatigable video journalist Akira Hakuta get a tour of CBP's Canine Enforcement Training Center in Front Royal, Va. It's home to the agency's 13-week training course for handlers and canines that teaches the dogs how to detect suspicious materials and trains officers to guide and care for their four-legged partner.

Special thanks to the entire staff at the training center and the CBP officers at Dulles International Airport for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at an important training program.

If YOU have recommendations on the federal employees we should profile next, leave them in the comments section below or e-mail federaleye@washingtonpost.com.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 8, 2009; 4:30 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Eye On..., Video Report  
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Next: Eye Opener: April 8, 2009

Comments

My, my. It's getting to be so...well, who wants to fly any more? It's a huge hassle. And it's almost a joke. Telling 90 year women and toddlers to take off their shoes. Have we no common sense?

Anyway, so now we have dogs checking us out. What's there purpose? To protect us from terrorists? I think dogs circulating airports will exasperate the anxiety people are feeling today. How threatened are we...really?

From the little that I read—whatever was in the headline—made me react to the idea. I personally don't like it. Can't say I'm behind the idea of going behind the scenes to cover their training site. For what purpose?

Then I read a little bit about the authors. I saw how excited they were to have completed this story. Excited and energetic. All young-in-mind and energetic, I suppose. To them, this appeared to be a really cool story. Can't say I understand where they're coming from. Somehow though it makes me NOT want to read the story. Very strange.

Instead I want to ask these writers and videographers about their education. What school produced these type of thinkers? Things like that.

Posted by: zen99 | April 8, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Note to Zen99: This is not something new. Dogs have been used in border security operations for decades. These dogs are trained specifically for either cargo or passenger operations. The passenger-oriented dogs are not aggressive and will treat you with as much respect as your own mother. If you have respect for how they do their job, our country will be that much safer from the violence and terrorism that is a sad fact of today's world. The purpose of this story is to educate and assure the public that this country, at least stateside, uses humane approaches to ensure our safety.

Posted by: AnnArborGuy | April 8, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

People have trained dogs to help us perform important tasks for a long time, whether it's assisting people with disabilities or sniffing out explosives. I don't think the use of dogs at customs is new, and I think it's a reasonable security tool. I was also on the Mall for the inauguration and saw plenty of bomb-sniffing dogs at work.

I found this story interesting, partly because I like dogs but also because the reporting was fairly thorough and well-paced. Zen99, just reading the headline and then complaining about the entire premise of this video report is doing some shoddy journalism of your own. At least watch or read something before criticizing it.

Posted by: shantybird | April 8, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

You're right. Pretty shoddy journalism on my part.

Eventually, I imagine, I WILL go back and read the story. It's just that initially it sparked such trepidation that I couldn't bring myself to read it. This massive image of danger immediately appeared. It seems that in the name of the threat of violent attack, rights have systematically been taken. My question is how far must we go to demonstrate we are safe?

And yes, I realize dogs have been in use for some time, but when it gets to the point where they mingle with travelers—I don't know...it just doesn't feel right. They are there to detect criminal activity and I think that will make some people—good people—nervous. I'd rather see horses, I think.

Posted by: zen99 | April 8, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Nice story on the work Customs does with their canine colleagues. It was interesting to see how the dogs were trained to sniff out different illegal activities and respond to those situations.

After reading the comments, I have to wonder why some people go out of their way to find fault with stories that otherwise are simply made to inform and have very little to do with their complaint? I guess malcontents just have no other option.

Posted by: Yeziam | April 8, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Nice story on the work Customs does with their canine colleagues. It was interesting to see how the dogs were trained to sniff out different illegal activities and respond to those situations.

After reading the comments, I have to wonder why some people go out of their way to find fault with stories that otherwise are simply made to inform and have very little to do with their complaint? I guess malcontents just have no other option.

Posted by: Yeziam | April 8, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

You can't fool a dog's nose. Smugglers have been trying for years, a trained dog can find even a trace of drugs or explosives. If I am at the airport or somewhere where there is a large crowd and I see a dog and it's handler, I know I am more protected than if relying solely on human detection. The way these dogs and their handlers interact is fascinating, there is mutual respect.

Posted by: beana2 | April 11, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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