Situational awareness and teamwork at Boston Logan International Airport prevents security breach

Monday, July 27, 2020
STSO Kenney TSO Claudia Vigliotta

A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer reacted quickly to stop a man who attempted to get through an exit lane and into the secure area of Boston Logan International Airport.

Transportation Security Officer (TSO) Claudia Vigliotta also attempted to stop him, but the man pushed through TSO Vigliotta and began physically assaulting the CBP officer.

Relying on their situational awareness and training, Supervisor Transportation Security Officers (STSOs) Robbin Kenney and Thomas LaFleur, and TSO Gary Cafferelli heard the commotion and responded to the exit lane within seconds of the altercation.

Kenny, first on the scene, observed the combativeness of the man and left the exit to call Massachusetts State Police, the law enforcement agency charged with responding to

STSO LaFleur and TSO Cafferelli
STSO Thomas LaFleur (left) and TSO Gary Cafferelli (Photo courtesy of BOS TSA)

disturbances at BOS, while LaFleur grabbed the man to prevent him from further attacking the CBP Officer. Cafferelli calmly talked with the man and attempted to de-escalate the situation.

LaFleur released his grip and the man again struggled with Officers, but soon compliantly sat down on a chair after seeing many blue uniforms at the exit.  The State Police arrived and transported the man to Massachusetts General Hospital for mental and medical evaluation.

Before arriving at the exit, the man allegedly grabbed an airport fire extinguisher off the wall, triggered a fire alarm and damaged airline ticket counters and computer monitors. He was issued a summons by State Police to appear in court for malicious destruction of property, assault and battery, disorderly conduct and trespassing.

“TSA leadership unequivocally supports Team BOS’s actions,” said BOS Deputy Federal Security Director Marcy Donnelly. “They had their finger on the pulse of the situation.”

“After reviewing the actions of our Officers, we consider the response to be professional and appropriate,” said BOS Federal Security Director Robert Allison. “Their situational awareness and professionalism in containing and deescalating a tense situation was spot on.”

In a call to the Officers, Administrator David Pekoske and Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell heard the account firsthand and offered their thanks and admiration to the team. Each Officer was awarded the Administrator’s challenge coin.

The Administrator mentioned the incident at a recent virtual town hall, acknowledging the professionalism of the Officers and answered a related standard operating procedure question.

“I commend what Team BOS did,” said Administrator Pekoske when asked whether Officers were now allowed to physically restrain passengers and use force to resolve such incidents. “My advice is follow our standard operating procedure, follow the training that we provide. But on occasion, you’re going to have to make those instantaneous decisions. He [LeFleur] made the right one in my view in this case.”