1. What are random screenings?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Police will perform screenings of all common areas and all unattended vehicles in parking areas on the Bethesda campus. The areas will be selected at random.
2. Why are random screenings conducted?
It is a federal requirement by the Director of the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, recent active shooter incidents around the country and in the Washington DC metro area by trusted insiders necessitate further security measures on campus.
3. What makes the random screenings, "random"?
All common and vehicle parking areas are assigned a number. The NIH Police will use a random number generator to select numbers from this range of numbers to determine the areas to be inspected.
4. What are the inspectors looking for?
The inspections will be conducted to detect for prohibited items on campus. These inspections may be carried out by the NIH Police K-9 teams. For a detailed list of prohibited items, please visit:
5. Will random screenings affect my commute?
No. Random inspections will be conducted on unattended parked vehicles and in common areas. Employees and valid access badge holders will not be stopped at employee gates for random screenings.
6. Under what authority will random screenings be performed?
The NIH police will perform random inspections under the authority of the Director, NIH.
7. Will the inspectors enter my vehicle?
Under most circumstances, no. Officers will look into the vehicle(s) to ascertain if prohibited items are in plain sight. Specially trained K-9 units will be used to determine if there are scents indicating the presence of prohibited items. Electronic devices will also be utilized to determine if those substances are present. Redundant tests will be conducted to determine the accuracy of positive indicators. The experience of the officers and their canines, weather conditions and cargo will also be taken into consideration before making a determination if a vehicle needs to be accessed.
8. What happens if my vehicle tests positive for prohibited items?
Under rare circumstances, "false positives" occur. For example, when yard fertilizer spills in a vehicle. If a vehicle tests positive, the NIH Police shall conduct further screening tests to determine if the initial results were valid and a vehicle needs to be accessed.
9. Is this policy permanent?
This policy remains in effect until rescinded by the Director, NIH.
10. Who is the owner of this process?
The NIH Chief of Police.