With all the negative press related to of aviation security and by extension the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) over the past week, today I’d like to step back and discuss what the TSA is doing to make air travel safer … taking a look back over the month.
The TSA’s primary mission, in response to terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, has been the threat against air travel in the United States. Since the creation of the TSA, the agency has frequently been criticized … and yes I take them to task on issues on Flying With Fish fairly often … but more often than not, the successes of the TSA’s front line agents are over looked.
It is easy to overlook the positives within the TSA because TSA agents doing their job done does not make a good sound bite and it does not draw readers in the same way a negative story does.
In the past month, October 2010, TSA agents have identified and stopped guns, drugs, swords prevented people from flying with fake IDs and helped apprehend those in the commission of a crime or traveling with a warrant for their arrest.
The following is a by the numbers look at success of the TSA’s front line agents in October 2010, having stopped 98 guns from passing through security checkpoints, identified and prevented 15 “artfully concealed” items forbidden from passing through security checkpoints and blocked 63 would-be passengers from attempting to travel with fake documents or while wanted by law enforcement.
So … what is an ‘artfully concealed’ item? It’s a term somewhat unique to the TSA, but essentially is it an item disguised as another item in an attempt to bring it on board a flight. “Artfully concealed” items include passengers inserting a box cutter inside their shoes , a sword hidden inside a cane, 14.3lbs of cocaine inserted into the lining of a purse and (my personal favorite from the TSA archives) a gun hidden inside a teddy bear that was placed inside a diaper bag.
In regard to the 63 would-be travelers who were arrested, some of those stopped were nabbed while attempting to cross through checkpoints with bogus documents, primarily fraudulent identification. Others were stopped based on their behaviour, and when questioned by law enforcement were arrested as they were traveling in the commission of a crime or traveling while there was an outstanding warrant for their arrest.
So, while changes do need to be made within the TSA, many of the agency’s front line agents are doing their jobs and doing their jobs well … and this does need to be kept in mind because it is easy to lose sight of.