More than 3,600 athletes from 100 countries were screened at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) as they traveled for the 11th international multisport World Games event.
Preparation for the 11-day event required coordination with the World Games Federal Committee chaired by U.S Secret Service, the U.S Marshal Service to deputize the legacy canine teams, and DHS intelligence officers at the FBI intelligence command post.
“TSA was involved from the beginning of the security preparations in 2021,” said Federal Security Director Gail Linkins. “Keith Kennedy was the TSA BHM lead for support of the World Games. He worked tirelessly for over one year to ensure our operational security plan was in place.”
“As the TSA lead for the event, I had the privilege of assisting and closely coordinating the security planning. I was involved in preparation with our federal, state and local partners over the past two-years,” said Assistant Federal Security Director (AFSD) Law Enforcement Keith Kennedy. “It was an honor to be able represent TSA in support of ‘The World Games 2022.’”
Kennedy said, “Together with TSA Federal Security Director Gail Linkins, we were able to ensure the security of fans, athletes, volunteers and employees not only at the Birmingham International Airport, but also multiple transportation venues and event venues associated with The World Games.”
The BHM Officers and managers were attentive during the process. The compliance team supported the Joint Operation Center and the checkpoint while the National Deployment Officers assisted with screening. The coordination center ensured proper credentials were obtained and briefings were regularly held. The training team worked together with AFSD Tara Corse to schedule Asylum, Human Trafficking and Active Shooter training.
“Four of TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams from the Atlanta Field Office, Washington, D.C Field Office, Chicago Field Office and Houston Field Office, comprised of Federal Air Marshals and transportation security inspectors assisted in helping secure multiple mass transit locations associated with the event,” said Kennedy.
“TSA Alabama surveyed our workforce for language skills. Officer Doina Powell speaks Spanish, Romanian, Russian, Italian in addition to English, and she traveled from Mobile Regional Airport to assist,” explained Linkins.
TSO Doina Powell was commended for her compassion and empathy. She translated for a stranded passenger that did not speak English, gave the passenger her personal lunch and purchased the person an airline ticket.
“As TSOs, we need to be sensitive to cultural diversity and understand passengers’ values and needs while screening them with utmost respect and kindness,” Powell added.
“Even the smallest acts of compassion can connect us to other people and make us better human beings. Kindness costs nothing to the giver but means the world to the receiver of it. It is important to be kind and compassionate without expecting anything in return.”
TSO Edgar Ramirez noted, “The ability to engage in the World Games enhanced the TSA Officers perspective to effectively enjoy persons of different ethnic backgrounds. As a bilingual officer I was able to communicate with the athletes and made their screening a most pleasurable one.”
Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Management Randolph Alles, was in attendance for the final countdown meeting for the World Games Security and visited with BHM checkpoint officers on his departure.
“Throughout The World Games, I was able to witness TSA personnel on multiple occasions, engaging and assisting the public,” expressed Kennedy. “Team members were described by local citizens and individuals traveling from around the world as engaging, professional and caring, which exemplified the best qualities of TSA personal."
By TeaNeisha Barker, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs