Currently, TSA BDOs seek out potential security threats through Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT). SPOT focuses on involuntary physical and physiological reactions, such as micro facial expressions, that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered … but this technique leaves out a critical factor that is employed effectively by high level security agencies around the world … it fails to actually interact with people.
To address the significant lapse in the effectiveness of the BDO program, the TSA will begin training BDOs to directly interact with people passing through TSA screening checkpoints. The technique being implemented by the TSA involves BDOs learning to approach people in a non-threatening manner and casually asking non-invasive questions to gauge passenger reactions.
People reacting to TSA BDOs with the inability to quickly answer questions, providing inconsistent answers or avoiding eye contact may be pulled aside for additional screening by TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSO).
The approximately 60 BDOs set to begin training at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) in mid-August are likely to face an interesting twist to their training … confused or confrontational passengers put off by TSA BDOs approaching them and questioning them. Presently passengers are not required to answer any questions asked of them by TSA BDOs and given the open hostility towards the TSA by many travelers can cause confrontations.
The TSA’s decision to adopt a direct interaction as a threat indicator is a step in the right direction for the agency to provide thorough security rather than the appearance of security.