Omaha, NE.—News Channel Nebraska has learned that President Trump’s sweeping budget changes apparently put a key security operation at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield at risk.
The program funds bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling the terminals, including ticket counters, curbside areas and serving “as general deterrents to would-be terrorists or criminals,” according to a 2014 federal report.
Officially known as the National Explosive Detection Canine Team Program it currently finds the Transportation Security Administration lending an expensive helping hand to law enforcement across the country including the Omaha Police Department.
“The TSA provides $202,000 per year to the department to go towards the dogs/officers/equipment, etc.,” Lt. Darci Tierney tells News Channel Nebraska.
The Trump budget calls for a seven percent increase to the Department of Homeland Security, which includes TSA. But the bulk of that money goes to the President’s border wall and other immigration enforcement. The “America First” 2018 spending plan specifically notes the “elimination of TSA grants to State and local jurisdictions.”
A spokesman for Homeland Security would not confirm that bomb-sniffing dogs, such as those at Eppley, would be affected telling News Channel Nebraska that those details will be released when the full budget is published.
But U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York has complained, that among other things, Trump’s plan “severely cuts back on canine detection teams.”
Leaving one of Eppley’s safeguards up in the air.
“If the TSA funding goes away, the OPD would have to revisit how many dogs we would actually need and how we would fund such an effort,” says Tierney.