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TSA Disagrees With Call To Centralize, Redistribute VIPR Teams

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Mickey McCarter
HS Today
Aug 28, 2012

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been receiving more money for its collaborative program to put law enforcement and screening officers on surface transportation systems.

But TSA could operate these Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams more efficiently and effectively, said the inspector general (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently.

The VIPR teams generally support federal, state and local efforts to bolster security for key transportation systems. The teams, stood up permanently in fiscal year 2008, are made up of combinations of Federal Air Marshals, transportation security officers, surface transportation security inspectors, canine detection teams, explosives detection specialists, behavior detection officers and police officers from federal, state and local agencies. They screen rail and bus passengers, search for suspicious behavior or items and generally investigate crimes or acts of terror on transportation systems.

In a report, Efficiency and Effectiveness of TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Program Within Rail and Mass Transit Systems, the DHS IG office made 16 individual recommendations on improving the VIPR teams — from clarifying legal authorities for officers to ensuring enough canine support to teams to improving training for them.

“Specifically, we reviewed whether TSA has a methodology to select VIPR deployments; whether geographic location and critical infrastructure affect the conduct of VIPR team operations; and whether VIPR teams are efficient and effective in augmenting local, state and Federal efforts to enhance security on rail and mass transit systems,” the IG report stated. “TSA has improved the VIPR program since its inception; however, organizational, programmatic and operational challenges remain.”

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This article was posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 7:54 am

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