Chicago sniffers not up to snuff

Published 28 February 2006

A bomb-sniffing dog which is supposed to protect the Chicago area’s commuter rails failed to detect a pound of explosives concealed in luggage less than six feet from its nose — and spent hours standing around, a CBS2/Chicago Sun-Times investigation found. A dog and handler from Parsippani, New Jersey-based Securitas did not react when an undercover tester walked past the team three times with the bag at Metra’s Ogilvie Transportation Center earlier this month. The tester then placed the luggage in front of the dog for thirty seconds, but the team did not discover the explosives. The experiment was captured on a hidden video camera.

This is not first time the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has encountered problems with bomb-sniffing dogs. Last year Metra dismissed two firms because their bomb-detection dogs flunked tests. As a result, Securitas was hired last March, winning a two-year contract for up to $600,000. The union for Metra police officers warned Metra management last year of its concerns about the performance of Rockford, Illinois-based PPC Inc. and Iowa-based Executive Security Group, which provided bomb dogs for Metra. The CBS2/Chicago Sun-Times investigation found PPC owner Paul Cushing once worked with Russell Lee Ebersole, who is serving a 6 1/2-year prison term in Maryland for providing ill-trained dogs and handlers to government agencies after the 9/11 attacks.

-read more in this report