If you ask Alan Thrasher, college football season and TSA training go hand-in-hand.
That’s because every year, his family business, Thrasher Brothers Trailways, of Birmingham, Alabama, participates in TSA training of K-9 bomb sniffing dogs to prepare them for their duties during the football season. Birmingham canine officers have been working with Thrasher Trailways each year since 2009.
“As an industry, we need to show our willingness to work with TSA and others without having to be regulated to do so. This cooperation demonstrates our commitment to the safety of our passengers and others during the many sporting events that motorcoaches serve,” said Thrasher, president of Thrasher Trailways.
This year, several agencies, including University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa Police, Pelham Police and Jefferson County Sheriff’s officers, brought their trained dogs to find packages hidden in various places on the motorcoaches, including luggage and service compartments.
They want to be sure the dogs are familiar with charter buses so they can be efficient when loading teams and receiving spectators at the upcoming football games across Alabama.
TSA provides and trains the dogs, and handlers, provides training aides and explosives storage magazines, and conducts annual on-site canine team certifications, according to its website.
Each participating agency gets partial reimbursement from the TSA for the costs of maintaining the teams, including veterinary fees, handler salaries, dog food and equipment. In return, the law enforcement agencies agree to use the canines in their assigned transportation environment for at least 80% of the handler’s duty time.
TSA officers from Atlanta assisted and observed the Alabama training. When the TSA officers said they wished they had a facility in Atlanta to hold similar training, Thrasher connected them with Georgia Coach Lines president and retired law enforcement officer Clarence Cox. Cox and Thrasher serve on the United Motorcoach Association Board, where they often work together to address industry issues.