TSA Officer of the Year key player in drone education, outreach

Friday, May 3, 2024
TSA Honorary Awards Ceremony photo. (From left, TSA Deputy Administrator Holly Canevari, Administrator David Pekoske, BDL TSO Greg Deschenes and DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary Kristie Canegallo. (Bruce Milton photo)

TSA’s 2023 Transportation Security Officer (TSO) of the Year has a little different resume than most TSA officers.

BDL TSO Greg Deschenes at the X-ray. (TSA BDL photo)
BDL TSO Greg Deschenes at the X-ray. (TSA BDL photo)

Greg Deschenes has spent his fair share of time on TSA’s airport screening lanes, but he primarily earned his TSA Honorary Award for his work away from the checkpoint.

Deschenes was named TSO of the Year at this week’s 2023 TSA Honorary Awards Ceremony at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

The 16-year TSO from Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport (BDL) was instrumental in mitigating possible drone threats.

“I assisted the TSA Connecticut assistant federal security director-law enforcement (AFSD-LE) by conducting preliminary inquiries and initial fact finding on the dates and times of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and laser strike occurrences in Connecticut,” said Deschenes. “We work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to determine an appropriate course of action, which often includes providing education and information to UAS pilots about the regulations for safe drone operations around airports.” 

In 2023, Deschenes supported the state’s AFSD-LE in establishing TSA Connecticut as a leader in the law enforcement transportation community throughout the state. He was also a key player in educating the public on the do’s and don’ts, the rules and regulations of flying drones safely. 

He participated in several UAS public education outreach events, including child safety fairs, a human trafficking seminar, active shooter exercise and a UAS exercise at the Air National Guard Base at BDL, and helped nurture TSA’s partnership with the Connecticut Municipal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Task Force, reaching out to police departments with drone teams and those planning to start one.

TSO Deschenes created this cup holder for BDL’s known crewmember podium. (TSA BDL photo)
TSO Deschenes created this cup holder for BDL’s known crewmember podium. (TSA BDL photo)

“It is important to educate kids and the public on the dangers of improperly operating a UAS, especially in the vicinity of an airport or other critical infrastructure,” Deschenes said. “I was very fortunate to be selected as the law enforcement liaison when this collateral duty opened. The counter-UAS efforts were already developed, and I was able to bring my skills to further develop this program.”

He worked hand-in-hand with Connecticut AFSD-LE Steve Blindbury, who called Deschenes “an awesome TSO.” 

TSO Greg Deschenes with Deputy Administrator Holly Canevari and law enforcement partners at BDL. (Photo courtesy of Steve Blindbury)
TSO Greg Deschenes with Deputy Administrator Holly Canevari and law enforcement partners at BDL. (Photo courtesy of Steve Blindbury)

“He has proven to be a true professional and an invaluable asset to TSA Connecticut through his approach to customer service and participation in several groups and committees,” said Blindbury. “He helped establish TSA as a known leader in UAS outreach and awareness among stakeholders and partner agencies.”

Blindbury said Deschenes recently returned to the TSA checkpoint at BDL but expects to assign Deschenes back to his UAS duties in the near future. 

As a screening officer, Deschenes is known for his continuous effort to improve morale and contribute to the success of TSA’s mission. He recommended installing an interior lock on the BDL training room door to protect officers from a possible active shooter and is an on-the-job (OJT) training coach, hazmat handler and passenger support specialist. He also collected the highest number of canned goods during TSA BDL’s 2023 Feds Feed Families campaign.

Deschenes is honored and humbled to receive the 2023 TSO of the Year Award.

“It feels great to be recognized for my hard work, customer service and dedication to the workforce,” he said. “I am appreciative. There are hundreds of worthy officers out there who deserve the recognition as well.”

When he joined TSA in January 2008, Deschenes wasn’t sure he wanted to do this for a career, but over time he saw the importance of the TSO job.

“Being an OJT coach is an important way I can have an impact on TSA, teaching the new officers,” noted Deschenes. “Being a TSO is a very important position. We are the frontline. We are there to detect and stop all threats to aviation.”

When asked how he approaches his job every day, Deschenes replied, “I treat everyone with dignity and respect. Pretend it’s your family on that plane. Did you do your job correctly where you feel safe letting your family fly on that plane, that no prohibited items made it through on your watch?”

He plans to remain a TSO for now, although he admits he has another specific job in mind.

“I genuinely enjoy interacting with passengers and have the ability to be selected for additional collateral duties to support the mission in other ways,” said Deschenes. “I would like to become an explosives detection canine handler with TSA in New England.”

If earning this special Honorary Award wasn’t enough, he received it on his 40th birthday.

Happy birthday, Greg, and congratulations on a job well done!

By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs