TSA inspectors play key role in surface transportation security

Wednesday, March 2, 2022
CTA train photo

Over 14 years ago, Michael Madrigal joined TSA as a frontline screener at Los Angeles International Airport. He wasn’t a TSA officer for long. Just two months after he washired, Madrigal was promoted to surface transportation security inspector (TSI), a position he held until December 2021 when he was elevated to Region 5 regional security inspector (RSI).

As an RSI, Madrigal provides guidance and support to surface field offices in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. He also helps plan, coordinate, implement and evaluate highly complex surface transportation security programs, policies and operations. He serves as a technical expert and prepares a wide range of policy statements, studies and position papers that include new and innovative approaches in resolving highly complex transportation issues.

Photo of award
This award was presented to Region 5 Regional Security Inspector Michael Madrigal, who was named 2021 Surface Operations TSI of the Year. (Photo courtesy of Surface Operations)

TSA has nearly 200 surface TSIs in the field, all playing a crucial role in helping keep our nation’s surface transportation system safe and secure. That includes mass transit and passenger rail, highway and motor carrier, freight rail, maritime and pipeline.

“The surface transportation system is vital to our nation’s economy, defense and quality of life,” Madrigal said. “Because threats against the system were previously perceived as minor, little attention was paid to its security.”

However, he notes the world is changing, highlighted by multiple attacks that target surface transportation.

The TSA Modernization Act of 2018 changed TSA’s approach to surface transportation security by reorganizing and consolidating the agency’s Surface Operations responsibilities and functions. The Act streamlined how TSA engages with surface stakeholders and administers operational activities. In October 2019, TSA established Surface Operations within Security Operations, which is widely recognized for overseeing airport security checkpoint and baggage screening.

TSI Madrigal photo
Region 5 Regional Security Inspector Michael Madrigal (Photo courtesy of Michael Madrigal)

“[Surface transportation] security concerns are now attracting more attention, appropriately so, for the threat is real, and responding to it is hard,” assessed Madrigal. “This is where surface TSIs come into play. They conduct security assessments and training, [partner] with intelligence and law enforcement agencies, receive and disseminate intelligence and assess the nature and level of threat to [surface] transportation.”

Madrigal was recently honored nationally for his achievements on the job. Surface Operations named Madrigal as national Surface TSI of the Year.

“I am extremely honored to receive such an important award,” said Madrigal. “I am earnestly grateful for the recognition I have received for my work.”

It’s a big team effort, and Madrigal appreciates everyone involved working together to protect our nation’s surface transportation network.

“I sincerely thank each one of my coworkers for helping me reach a stage where I can proudly hold up this award as a mark of my achievement,” he said. “I also promise to only get better at my work. Thank you!”

By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs