TSA director

Frank Cilluffo, director of the McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security (right), moderated Friday's event with Adm. David P. Pekoske, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The head of the Transportation Security Administration lectured at Auburn on Friday about safety in transportation, K-9 units, challenges for the program and more.

Admiral David P. Pekoske, the TSA’s administrator, spoke in the Dixon Conference Center in The Hotel at Auburn University at 11 a.m. after the university’s board of trustees meeting.

Notable university figures went from one meeting to the next, including interim President Jay Gogue and trustee members.

Pekoske was introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who has been a big proponent of the department.

“As ranking member of (the) Homeland Security Committee, I’m thrilled to see my district play a role in keeping our country safe,” Rogers said.

The lecture had a heavy focus on transportation, which, as Pekoske reminded listeners, includes air travel, trains, and automobiles.

The discussion was moderated by Frank Cilluffo, director of the McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security.

Many are preparing to fly across the country for the holidays and spend time with family members. There is an underlying fear among travelers related to outside terrorist threats when flying.

“I think sometimes people think that given the success we’ve had against al-Qaida and ISIS that the threat is diminished,” Pekoske said. “I would not agree with that at all. The threat is absolutely there. The threat is different.”

The TSA is committed to promoting American safety, streamlining security checkpoints and promoting ease for users.

This includes new technology at airports, Pekoske said, as well as K-9 units.

“I’ve come to believe strongly that K-9s play a crucial role in the protection of our transportation systems,” Rogers said.

Pekoske said Auburn’s K-9 unit aligns closely with the TSA’s and that he looks forward to that future.

“We move our dogs throughout the airport so they’re not just at the screening checkpoints; they’re on the operational areas of the airport, in checked baggage, in the public areas of the airport,” he said. “Because their presence and just their detection capability is really unmatched.”

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