TSA frontline officers are subject matter experts when it comes to screening airline passengers, so it’s not surprising the U.S. Secret Service turned to TSA to help screen attendees at dozens of high-level political campaign events this election season.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske leveraged an interagency agreement between the two agencies, repeating a successful collaboration begun in 2016. Seventy-five TSA officers from around the nation provided screening for 69 campaign events. Because of early COVID-19 gathering restrictions, a staggering 60 of those events were held in September and October.
As presidential campaign screening managers, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) Transportation Security Manager (TSM) Bill Kulbacki and Los Angeles International Airport TSM Juan Hernandez selected the elite group of officers who remained on their assigned airport schedules but deployed to campaign events as needed.
When officers sign on for event duty, they agree to the inevitable inconveniences that occur, even in the most thoroughly planned gatherings. They cheerfully endure the spur-of-the-moment changes, tiring travel, heat and cold of outdoor venues and work days that often stretch long into the night. They’ll tell you, however, they gain more than they could ever lose.
Looking back at a job well done, the members of the 2020 Presidential Campaign Screening Team (PCST) don’t reflect on the personal comfort lost, but rather the pride of a job well done and the camaraderie that quickly molded them into a team.
“I can tell you, every member of every squad I was associated with was proud to serve on this team,” said Bradley International Airport TSA Officer Richard Archer. “We picked each other up. We had each other’s backs.”
“We became a family on the road,” added Raleigh-Durham International Airport TSA Officer Maxine Taylor. “I was very excited to work alongside some of the best officers in the country.”
O’Hare International Airport TSA Officer Elizabeth Brazauskas said, “I enjoyed meeting new people and forming new friendships to last a lifetime.”
“What an amazing experience it was to not only see upfront and personally how the Secret Service works, but to be a contributing member of the mission,” recalled PHL TSA Officer Patricia Piazza.
The team earned the respect of each other and their Secret Service colleagues with whom they served. “One of the best parts of PCST was the mutual trust and respect that built up between the TSA and Secret Service officers from working together in often very challenging conditions,” said Charlotte Douglas International Airport Lead TSA Officer Nicholas Cardella. “We found artfully concealed knives and other prohibited items at each event, including loaded firearms, ammunition and magazines, while screening thousands of people in a very short time.”
“The PCST demonstrated their dedication to the mission and the public with the utmost professionalism and class,” said Kulbacki. “I am extremely honored to serve with such an outstanding team and could not be more proud of their accomplishment.”