The compassion and caring spirit is alive and well at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport (BDL).
Two BDL TSA officers put their sense of humanity to action in completely separate ways, both making a big impact on passengers and their BDL teammates.
Passenger wallet gone, TSA officer buys lunch
A passenger pulled his wallet out to allow the X-ray operator to scan it.
TSA Officer Rich Pfeffer advised the man to put it in his bag, but instead, the traveler placed his wallet under the flap of his briefcase. After his property was scanned, the passenger unknowingly dropped his wallet under the X-ray rollers, left the checkpoint and shortly returned to report the wallet missing.
Officers searched all over for the wallet with no luck.
Knowing the passenger didn’t have any money, Pfeffer quickly took action by grabbing some of his own money to buy the man lunch.
“I felt a moral obligation to help this passenger,” said Pfeffer. “I was the last person to handle his wallet. I decided to give him some money so he could at least get something to eat or drink to calm his nerves.”
And now, the rest of the story!
Further investigation found another passenger stole the man’s wallet when he dropped it. Fortunately, Connecticut State Police were right on the scene and quickly nabbed the culprit and recovered the wallet. By then, the victim’s flight had left the airport.
Supervisory TSA Officer Rebecca Lapointe was a key player in the investigation. She coordinated the CCTV review that led police to the thief at one of the airport gates.
“State Police were grateful for her assistance and could not have resolved the incident without her expertise,” said BDL Assistant Federal Security Director for Mission Support Michael Beauchemin. “Our officers and staff have an immense amount of experience and commitment to the mission. They have built relationships with our stakeholders, passengers and each other. At the end of the day, they are going to take care of our passengers while handling the important work at hand.”
The passenger got his wallet back, thanks to TSA BDL who packaged the wallet and shipped it to his final destination.
“The public has an adverse opinion of TSA due to the nature of social media and other factors, but we all aren’t rude, uncompassionate people,” Pfeffer noted. “In this world where there is so much negativity, if there are still some people with integrity and self-dignity, all hope is not lost.”
Officer saves baby at BDL checkpoint
Just 15 minutes from the end of her shift, TSA Officer Isabella Alexander swabbed a passenger’s hand for explosives after conducting a pat-down at the advanced imaging technology machine. As Alexander returned to her position, she walked past a woman with a baby in a stroller. While the woman put her property back together, the baby boy, who was not strapped in, started toppling out of the stroller, headed for a dangerous fall.
Thanks to Alexander’s situational awareness and quick action, she immediately grabbed the young boy before he hit the floor. A lead TSA officer on the scene said the baby was falling head first and could have been seriously injured.
“I was nervous that the baby would fall, and as I saw him about to fall, it was as if it was instinct to go for the child,” Alexander recalled. “I thought of my baby family members. I saw the child start to fall and just reached for him, hoping to at least brace the fall, and if not, catch the child. After it happened, it didn’t feel like I did anything that important until I saw other officers looking at me in shock that I did it.”
Alexander said situational awareness is important in everything TSA officers do.
“It seems we are mainly trained to look for suspicious actions or keep an eye out for unattended bags,” she said. “The training helped in this situation, because I could have thought the baby was just being fussy in the stroller and wanted to get out. The fact I took those couple extra seconds to look at the baby and the stroller is what helped the child.”
“I would tell people who find themselves in any situation like [these] to take the high road and do what you feel is the right thing to do,” Pfeffer said.
Beauchemin said Pfeffer and Alexander had critical work to do in a busy checkpoint, and they did it while showing care and compassion.
“Both [officers] had the situational awareness and heart to do even more,” said Beauchemin. “TSA officers deal with the public more than any other federal employee, so every word and action makes a big impact. That impact, good or bad, reflects on every one of us, so when they make passengers’ lives better in that short time at the checkpoint, we all benefit from that commitment to people.”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs