Amid a slew of recent international terror strikes – the Manchester concert bombing, the London Bridge attack, the explosion on Paris’ Champs-Elysees, a foiled bombing attempt at a Brussels train station – there comes a question regarding the Transportation Security Administration’s practice of allowing regular passengers to pass through security using TSA PreCheck procedures.
PreCheck allows for an expedited airport security experience, and in order to be approved for the program an applicant must pass a background check, undergo an in-person interview with a representative of the TSA and pay an $85 application fee.
Early Tuesday morning, an NBC DFW viewer sent an email with an observation he made at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport:
The latest news from around North Texas.
"Today the TSA at Terminal E at DFW around the United Ticket counter is giving EVERYONE automatic "pre-check" clearance. Even the TSA supervisor agreed this wasn't a safe situation, but said D.C. instructed them to do this. They have K9 randomly walking thru the line, but missing sniffing quite a few bags. How safe is this situation at a major U.S airport???!"
A representative from the TSA acknowledged that during peak travel times at some of the nation’s busiest airports, TSA agents will often allow regular passengers to pass through PreCheck.
The TSA spokesperson, speaking on background only, indicated that the presence of the canine is what makes the scenario that the viewer described allowable.
Passenger Screening Canines “are specifically trained to detect explosives’ odor on passengers in the checkpoint environment in addition to their conventional role,” according to the TSA.
“This enables TSA to more fully utilize TSA PreCheck screening lanes in airports where they are not able to operate at their full TSA PreCheck capacity,” former TSA Director Melanie Harvey told the House Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation Security Subcommittee in June 2014. “[The canines are] deployed to operate during peak travel times, where they will have the opportunity to screen as many passengers as possible, helping to reduce wait times.”
Paul Publow, a Toronto businessman who was traveling through D/FW Airport on Tuesday, told NBC DFW he does have concerns about non-PreCheck passengers being allowed through the PreCheck process.
“Of course, because the reason that you’re in PreCheck is because you’ve already been cleared and you’re a trusted traveler,” Publow said.
PreCheck passenger Pamela Anderson Eno, of Mansfield, took a more pragmatic approach to the practice.
“Whatever it takes to move people through [security],” Anderson Eno said. “We don’t get great customer service in different places, so when someone notices a problem and they want to take care of it… I think that’s fine.”