“First, I thought, ‘What is this guy thinking?’ Second, I thought about the situation, observed his body language and stance and thought about if he seemed aggressive or if he truly intended to do harm.” That’s what went through the mind of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) TSA officer Alejandro Lozano-Castaneda as he screened a passenger with a bandaged arm.
Lozano-Castaneda was working at checkpoint security when he noticed the passenger with a wrapped arm. When the passenger cleared the initial image screening, Lozano-Castaneda followed the standard procedures and conducted additional screening of the bandaged area. Politely engaging the passenger in conversation, he worked through the process and completed the required steps.
While screening the bandaged arm with a hand wand, the arm alarmed. The passenger then told Lozano-Castaneda it was probably the metal clasp securing the bandage. Not easily convinced, Lozano-Castaneda continued to follow procedures and during the pat-down, felt something irregular under the bandage. Something just didn’t feel right.
After further questioning, the passenger finally admitted that he had a knife wrapped to his forearm under the bandage. Lozano-Castaneda immediately stopped the screening process and called Supervisory TSO (STSO) Francisca Jackson.
Jackson made the appropriate notifications and local law enforcement arrived to facilitate the removal of the knife from the bandages . “Thanks to TSO Lozano-Castaneda’s quick thinking and adherence to agency policies and procedures, a potentially dangerous situation was averted,” said Jackson.
“We drill, we talk and we test our team with these kinds of scenarios,” said Lead Transportation Security Manager (TSM) Alejandra Tamayo, “and it’s gratifying to see that in real-life situations, our officers follow their training to protect the nation’s transportation systems from prohibited items.”
TSM Brandon Brown noted, “Management recognized TSO Alejandro Lozano-Castaneda at a later shift brief by management for his attention to detail.”