Inside CBSA: Technology, dog’s nose keeping illegal items out of country
With 13,000 customs officers, The Canadian Border Service Agency is the second-largest enforcement agency in the country.
At Halifax Stanfield International Airport, officers work day and night to keep travelers moving smoothly and contraband items out of Canada.
The first person a traveler will see when they’re entering Canada is a customs officer at the primary inspection station. There they’re expected to hand over their declaration card which contains all the information an officer needs.
From there, officers will decide whether or not to let the traveler continue on of if they require further processing.
“It could be based on the interaction with the officer. The officers are trained to detect any sort of off behaviors that don’t match with the travelers answers. There’s also many types of products that require us to do a verification – such as many food, plant and animal products,” said Colin Murchison, chief of operations with the CBSA.
Furry officer cracks down on food, plants
Roscoe the beagle, with his keen sense of smell, cracks down on items that might not get picked up in a scanner.
“He’s after the food and the plants and what have you, it’s an important role because such things as mad cow on meat, avian flu and stuff like that. He’s trained to detect the products that come in that could have those parasites on them. He does a very good job,” said Brian Devanney, Roscoe’s handler.
Technology moving things along
Newer technology, like the Nexus kiosk, is helping border services move low-risk passengers, who don’t have a criminal record or immigration trouble, through the airport faster.
“The machines themselves actually identify the travelers biometrically by using an iris scan, they enter their declaration on the machine electronically and then it prints out a card which they present upon exiting,” Murchinson said.
If a traveler needs further processing, they are taken to a second inspection area and questioned and their belongings are thoroughly searched.
“We also have narcotics identification kits which use a chemical process to identify any narcotic products,” Murchinson said. “What that does is it gives the officer reasonable grounds to suspect that the traveler may have narcotics with them.”
Officials say the majority of travelers declare everything properly, but they do see some travelers trying to smuggle goods into the country.
Officers have seized everything from guns, to knives and pepper spray recently from passengers.
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