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Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

What’s the Best Way to Screen Airport Employees?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Photo of an airport employee being screened
For some time, there's been debate on whether TSA should implement 100 percent screening of airport employees every time they enter the secure area of an airport. We screen passengers every time they get on a plane, so some say we should screen airport employees every time they go into a secure area of an airport, including baggage facilities, gate areas, and airplanes. After all, they say, if a bad guy had access to critical areas of the airport, they could pull off an inside job.

It’s important to note that airport employees who require access to secure areas of airports must pass a background investigation to obtain an access badge. Through the background check, we know a lot about these airport employees, and they are also well-known to other airport workers who see them every day and would know if something didn’t look right.

Currently at all airports, TSA officers can be deployed anywhere at anytime to inspect workers, their property and vehicles. These officers ensure workers follow proper access procedures when entering secure areas, display the appropriate credentials and do not possess items unrelated to their work that may pose a security threat.

Earlier this week, TSA began an employee screening pilot program in seven airports, as required by Congress in January 2008. The pilot programs started on May 5 and will run for 90 days.

Seven airports will participate in the pilot, representing different locations and airport sizes. One hundred percent employee screening at either the checkpoint or airport perimeter gates will be conducted at Boston Logan International Airport, Jacksonville International Airport in Florida, and Craven Regional Airport in New Bern, North Carolina. This means that every time an employee has to enter the secure area, they have to be screened. At these airports, there may be slightly longer checkpoint wait times for passengers and employees, particularly during peak times, as the volume of traffic will increase.

Denver International Airport in Colorado; Kansas City International Airport in Missouri; Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend, Oregon; and Eugene Airport in Oregon will conduct layered, enhanced employee screening methods. These include increased random physical screening and the deployment of portable equipment to screen employees throughout the airport environment. Additionally, we will be providing behavior detection training for law enforcement officials and airport operations/security personnel and employee security awareness training to enable these individuals to identify potential security risks.

The Homeland Security Institute will assist in collecting results, evaluating the programs and reporting the results to Congress in December 2008. They’ll be looking at efficiency and effectiveness of the pilot programs, required costs to implement comparable activities at all commercial airports, staffing requirements, necessary infrastructure improvements, and passenger and employee wait times, among other things.

We look forward to seeing the results, and as soon as we can, we’ll report them on the blog. If you’re going through one of the airports in the pilot, let us know how things went for you.

Lynn
TSA EoS Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

That's not a MMW image.

,>)

T. Saint

Submitted by Dunstan on

Finally... Someone to use the MMW machines on.

Cargo needs to be secure. At least you are thinking about it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Lynn, would you ask Bob to post the MMW WBI images that are ok for preschoolers.

Changing the subject won't work this time!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Will these employees be submitted to full body scans? Could you please send us their images???

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

Lynn,

It’s important to note that airport employees who require access to secure areas of airports must pass a background investigation to obtain an access badge. Through the background check, we know a lot about these airport employees ...

I'm sorry ... but this argument doesn't really hold water for me.

If passing an appropriate background check was sufficient evidence of integrity to avoid screening as an employee, then there would be no need to screen passengers who are members of the military, or other government employees with appropriate security clearances. (Or even passengers participating in CLEAR.) But we've heard a number of times on this blog that every passenger has to be screened, regardless of what security clearances they might possess.

Having said all of that ... I'm glad that you're looking at employee screening in a careful and systematic way.

Submitted by Miller on

Watch the prices at airports for everything take a quantum jump if they have 100% screening of airport workers. Some airline employees have had part of their lunches confiscated/abandoned/donated at TSA checkpoints. The airline employees aren't happy at all with that situation.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Millimeter wave will allow our TSOs to view a noninvasive image of a passenger revealing any items that were not divested. These images are friendly enough to post in a preschool. Heck, it could even make the cover of Reader’s Digest and not offend anybody."

Blogger Bob posted the words quoted above.

My question to Blogger Bob, do you stand by these remarks regarding the MMW images?

If so why will you not post front and rear images that have been asked for so many times? Why will you not discuss this issue?

Blogger Bob= Zero Credibility

Not going away!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I watched the recent hearings where director Hawley and others spoke before a select committee of congress. The GAO representative spoke about the hole of SIDA access (access to the secure area of the airport)and the need for TSA to close this hole by taking over the responsibilities of doing the background checks and issuing out SIDA badges and privileges to airport employees. Is this something that is projected in the foreseeable future? If not, then why because it's an obvious hole in security that screening each and every employee daily costing lots of time, money, and effort on can't begin to fill. The problem at ORD with illegal aliens working in the secure area has surely highlighted this hole. How and why were they given access when they didn't have valid social security numbers? The background checks are lacking severely since this wasn't found out before they were already granted access.

Submitted by Miller on

Do a google search on:

Airport Security Report

Read some of the articles that come up under that one. Disturbing.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Excellent, the MMW Post is no longer on the front page. Now we'll forget all about it and not ask you to post those images any more.

Submitted by Trollkiller on
Anonymous said...

Will these employees be submitted to full body scans? Could you please send us their images???

That is a really good question, it also brings to mind the following question.

Will the TSO be required to go through the metal detectors? If so does that mean they have to remove that fancy metal badge from the new "cop" uniform?
Submitted by Anonymous on

Good morning TSA! Will we finally see those images today??

Submitted by Anonymous on

"It’s important to note that airport employees...must pass a background investigation to obtain an access badge. Through the background check, we know a lot about these airport employees..."

I hold a TS/SCI clearance, and am read in to a handful of SAPs--I guarantee I've had a far more intensive background check than any airport employee. But I still need to be screened to get on a plane. So what's your point?

If I were a terrorist, rather than trying to sneak something past your MMW as carryon, I'd just bribe a low-paid, nonscanned airport worker to sneak stuff in for me. Seriously, you get one of those minimum wage earning immigrant people who are having problems making the mortgage this month, and it's only gonna cost me a little scratch to flip one. No muss, no fuss. No laborious time carving up C4 to fit into laptop batteries; and I don't have to attend Hogwart's potions class in order to come up with a magical binary explosive liquid compound to stuff into wee shampoo bottles.

This, my friends, is why you trust no one, and scan everyone. Even the TSOs, even their supervisors. The pilots, the trolley dolleys, every last soul through that gate gets checked. No exceptions. You either check everyone or no-one, because checking almost everyone is exactly the same, in terms of security, as checking no one.

Submitted by Anonymous on

miller: the employees are upset at having their lunches taken away? Poor babies! I'm upset at having to take my shoes off, being limited in liquids, being forced to buy beverages at exorbitant prices behind the secure area, and generally having my Fourth Amendment rights systematically violated every time I get on an airplane. I don't give a rat's patootie how sad the employees feel, they can suck it like the rest of us.

Submitted by Anonymous on

re: Some airline employees have had part of their lunches confiscated/abandoned/donated at TSA checkpoints.
-------------------------
Gotta be real careful with that BLT and pudding cup.
Never know when it may go off!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Trollkiller said:

If so does that mean they have to remove that fancy metal badge from the new "cop" uniform?

I hope so. With pliers. You never know if that badge is really a disguised blasting cap.

Submitted by Txrus on

Lynn said:
It’s important to note that airport employees who require access to secure areas of airports must pass a background investigation to obtain an access badge. Through the background check, we know a lot about these airport employees, and they are also well-known to other airport workers who see them every day and would know if something didn’t look right.
*********************************
First off, welcome to the blog Lynn; I think you'll find lots of very spirited discussions to keep you going.

Next, since it's inception, how many screeners have been found to have been stealing from passengers, smuggling drugs (ATL), & let's not forget good old Alvin's 'bring a gun to work' day, to name but a few examples of problematic behavior amongst the TSA workforce? All of these people had, presumably, passed one of your highly regarded background checks, correct? That worked well, didn't it?

Lynn, since you're new here, allow me to point out what has been pointed out, repeatedly, on this blog & others w/re: to the 'background checks'-passing one has absolutely NO bearing on the potential for FUTURE wrong-doing, therefore, to say airport employees & screeners should be exempt from screening & following the TSA's own rules pertaining to the on-going 'War on Water' (see 'Got Feedback' for BOS for further examples of this or, even better, take a stroll over to the Travel Safety & Security forum on Flyertalk.com) is patently absurd & shows just how little respect the TSA has for the traveling public that is footing the bill for your security theater.

Finally, where are the frontal pictures of the MMW we've been asking for?

Submitted by Anonymous on

comment counter not working!

Submitted by Anonymous on

And catering trucks? UPS? Fedex? Fuelers? Anyone who drives through the so called "Security Gate"?? Until everything get searched, it is all smoke and mirrors!

As far as the Anonymus comment that expresses no sympathy to working aiport employees going throuh the checkpoint. Maybe he will think twice when it is past his flights departure time and the agents working the flight are still stuck at the checkpoint going through screening! Another set up for further airline failures. The traveling public does not get it!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am a manager with an airline and also know of a few of the Jacksonville, FL airport employees, and to say its a disaster up there is an understatement. Has TSA opened the checkpoint before 5AM, which is when a few of the airline employees are to start yet? or are airlines still taking delays until your staff shows up???

I'm all for security, but I also feel that the TSA screeners should go thru the same process if you are going to make employees who undergo a 10 year background, fingerprint, and criminal check and training do the same thing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

re: As far as the Anonymus comment that expresses no sympathy to working aiport employees going throuh the checkpoint. Maybe he will think twice when it is past his flights departure time and the agents working the flight are still stuck at the checkpoint going through screening!

--------------------------
If going thru screening is required to report to work then I suggest getting there early enough to clear screening. Goes for TSA'ers also, no front of the line privilege is needed.

Do what is being required of the flying public, add two hours to your schedule.

TSNC

Submitted by Tux on

Check everyone or check no one. Anything else is hypocrisy. Oh yeah, and you better not be letting those deadly bottles of coke past security!

Post the frontal MMW images please. Oh, and explain how items too dangerous to take on a plane are safe enough to be donated to homeless shelters.

We're not going away.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I want to reinterate what jim huggins said about the background investigation...your background investigation can only be as good (which I highly doubt), but definitely not better than the ones for high level government security clearances. So, if your "backgroud check" is good enough for you to trust your employees, it should be good enough for you to trust other government employees. I have seen employees of federal law enforcement with high level secutity clearances, in professional clothes and all their credentials on them, get treated with utter disrespect and even get secondary screening while some airport employee whose dressed like a gangsta thug flashes his badge and walks through.

Submitted by Anonymous on

CREWPASS NOW!


CREWPASS NOW!


If you dont know what CrewPass is, Google it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"fancy metal badge from the new uniform"

Are they really going to give them badges?

What an insult to LEOs.

Submitted by Anonymous on

OK, I'll admit I'm hooked. I just HAVE to come back to this blog to see if the images appear. I think I may be a little disappointed if they ever do show up...

Submitted by Anonymous on

anonymous 5/8 9:00 AM said:

"If I were a terrorist, rather than trying to sneak something past your MMW as carryon, I'd just bribe a low-paid, nonscanned airport worker to sneak stuff in for me....

"You either check everyone or no-one, because checking almost everyone is exactly the same, in terms of security, as checking no one."

That's exactly it, folks. Game-set-match, the victory is ours. Tough screening for most people is just smoke and mirrors if others (who can be easily identifed, no less!) do not get screened 100% of the time.

There is no way to refute these statements, but I'd love to see the TSA try.

But then again, I'd love to see the full frontal MMW pix, too...

Submitted by Anonymous on

All of the arguments that you make against performing checks of all airport employees when they enter a secure area, could be made for any other secure area (prisons, nuclear plants, other critical infrastructure}. I work in a nuclear power plant, where we have all had background checks, know each other, and are subject to continuous scrutiny by security. Yet we are screened each and every time we enter the secure areas. I think that it is vital that these checks of airport employees be performed and it should quickly become mandatory at all airports.

Submitted by Anonymous on

responding to - Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Millimeter wave will allow our TSOs to view a noninvasive image of a passenger revealing any items that were not divested. These images are friendly enough to post in a preschool. Heck, it could even make the cover of Reader’s Digest and not offend anybody."

Blogger Bob posted the words quoted above.

My question to Blogger Bob, do you stand by these remarks regarding the MMW images?

If so why will you not post front and rear images that have been asked for so many times? Why will you not discuss this issue?

Blogger Bob= Zero Credibility

Not going away!!

___________________________________

Wow man----anger and conspiracy??? Why don't you just go to the MMW manufactures site and take a look? Now be sure not to mistake the MMW for the Body Scan made by AS&E, it has a very clear image but is slowwwww. The MMW images I have worked with, about 4 years now, are pretty lousy compared to other imaging forms.

I say again, go to the manufacture's site and ask them questions and/or request information.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Responding to - Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the recent hearings where director Hawley and others spoke before a select committee of congress. The GAO representative spoke about the hole of SIDA access (access to the secure area of the airport)and the need for TSA to close this hole by taking over the responsibilities of doing the background checks and issuing out SIDA badges and privileges to airport employees. Is this something that is projected in the foreseeable future? If not, then why because it's an obvious hole in security that screening each and every employee daily costing lots of time, money, and effort on can't begin to fill. The problem at ORD with illegal aliens working in the secure area has surely highlighted this hole. How and why were they given access when they didn't have valid social security numbers? The background checks are lacking severely since this wasn't found out before they were already granted access.

________________________________

ORD happened because a service company was maintaining the SIDA badges of terminated or resigned employees, getting the PIN with it and then hiring day labor and providing them with a badge & PIN. They did this when they should have reported the employees loss / resignation the the airport authority and turned in the badges. They did it for profit and as far as I am concerned put their greed above the safety of any and all of us. Super wrong and illegal. Hopefully they will face jail time.

They also access the airport through means other than the check points. TSA has programs in place for screening at places other than checkpoints but I believe it is congress who has limited the number of screening officers, not the TSA's refusal to hire. Think about how many people you would have to have to check employees at every access point at all 400 + commercial airports during all hours they are coming and going.

Again, limited resources and trying to figure what is priority. Also, regardless of what the industry says most think everyone should be checked but them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...

re: Some airline employees have had part of their lunches confiscated/abandoned/donated at TSA checkpoints.
-------------------------
Gotta be real careful with that BLT and pudding cup.
Never know when it may go off!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My experience tells me most all employees have it down pat with darn few giving up much of anything. Makes a good sob story though

Submitted by Anonymous on

Right now in my airport... I am an airline employee by the way.

There appears to be 1 TSO for every airline employee and a few left over to man the checkpoint. Sarcasm off........

Many airports to comply with this directive will have to spend millions and possibly billions cutting off access from public space to sterile space.

Most small airports you can walk from the ticket counter directly to the bagroom which is a part of SIDA. All of that access will have to be walled off.

You the paying customer.. Discover at the checkpoint you have a bottle of expensive perfume that exceeds current limits. There will be NO WAY now to get that added to your luggage. You can return it to the ticket counter but, the agents can no longer walk back to the bagroom and place said item in your checked baggage after the TSO's have screened it.

You check in and realize your passport is in your checked luggage and you need to retrieve it... Not happening now. Your bag in a city such as ATL will have to be returned to the claim area where you retrieve it and you join the hordes waiting to check in so you can re-check your bag.

As indicated earlier.. All of us airline employees now have to go through the checkpoint unless you want to expend additional tax payer dollars so the TSA can set up lanes outside of public contact. Better plan on getting to the airport even earlier now.

I as a manager come up to the counter because YOU wanted to speak to me??? Guess what I now have to be re-screened as my office is in the secure area. You think I am going to do this 6-7 times a day??? WRONG!

Another point of contention IS the screening of the TSO's.... Imagine if the TSA policed their own as they plan to for the rest of us...

The fox watching the hen house... Bring on screening for airline employees and watch delays, customer service, et al continue to head in the wrong direction.

To those government employees talking about security clearances.... If I had completed a background check and wanted to head to the Federal Court House... Perhaps I should be exempt from screening as you think you should be in my place of business.

TSA = Thousands Standing Around and that is from personal experience. Until WE as citizens DEMAND something other than cosmetic band aids on security it will NOT happen.

There is a reason EL AL has bomb proof cargo compartments. Bullet Proof flight decks.. NO CURBSIDE CHECK IN. Profiling....

Submitted by Anonymous on

HEY TSNC,

Again I say sending all employees through the checkpoint is setting the airlines up for failure. We are not just talking Pilots and Flight Attendants. At my station agents sometimes go back and forth betweeen the counter and gates 7 to 8 times a day. You say add 2 hours to your schedule? Let's see that's another 20 percent hourly cost to your payroll. Sure at $120a barrell for oil, that will be the end of another bunch of air carriers. Which means fewer Thousands Standing Around.

Submitted by Winstonsmith on

So Lynn, let me get this straight, you're telling me that not every person who enters the sterile area of an airport gets screened. Not every TSA employee gets checked every time he or she goes past a checkpoint.

Unless 100% of the people who enter the sterile area of an airport get checked each and every time they enter they enter the area there is no way to consider the area in any way secure. Unless 100% of the vehicles entering the sterile area of the airport get checked each and every time they enter there is no way to consider the sterile area secure.

Effectively what you've told me Lynn, is that the TSA has left the barn door open for the horses to come and go freely as they please and is only now thinking about the relative merits of maybe shutting it if it wouldn't be too inconvenient for the horses.

You're telling me that a person or persons determined to do harm to an aircraft could circumvent what minimal protection the checkpoint may offer by going through the gaping holes in the system that TSA has left in the system. This is what my tax dollars are paying for? Kip Hawley still has a job why?

You at the TSA pull these boneheaded moves and still expect us somehow to trust you. Not only no, but HELL NO! Give us our independent scientific verification of the need for 3-1-1. Show us the frontal pictures from the millimeter wave strip search machine. Prove to us there is an ongoing need to remove shoes. Prove to us that the TSA has made us or kept us any safer in the skies than we were on 9/10 and then maybe we'll start to talk.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Millimeter wave will allow our TSOs to view a noninvasive image of a passenger revealing any items that were not divested. These images are friendly enough to post in a preschool. Heck, it could even make the cover of Reader’s Digest and not offend anybody."

Blogger Bob posted the words quoted above.

My question to Blogger Bob, do you stand by these remarks regarding the MMW images?

If so why will you not post front and rear images that have been asked for so many times? Why will you not discuss this issue?

Blogger Bob= Zero Credibility

Not going away!!

Submitted by CBGB on

I am by no means a master of public relations, but for the love of god just post the damn images.

If you post the images and they are bad, then we will flip nuts.

If you post them and they aren't we'll shut up about it

But, if you DON'T post them, we're going to assume the worst (or you wouldn't need to hide them) we're just going to continue spreading it around and more and more people are going to ask why you won't show them. Even your parrots will begin to question why. If you just showed us the pics they would say its not that bad, and its necessary, but right now you have zero credibility.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is just to clarify things for everyonem TSOs all go through the same security screening passengers go through, except they do it at least once a day before they can start work, and if they leave the sterile area on a break, at most airports they have to be re-screened. If they alarm the metal detector twice, they get hand-wanded too.

Submitted by Jeff on
"while some airport employee whose dressed like a gangsta thug flashes his badge and walks through."

Exactly where have you seen these airport employees "dressed like a gangsta thug?"
Most airport employees are wearing a uniform of some sort. I'll grant you a lot of ramp employees don't look that attractive, but I'd hardly say that they're dressed like thugs.
Besides, any employee (as well as anything the employee brings with them into the sterile area) is subject to search.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Honestly I think that this is a waste of time and money by the TSA. Not that the TSA is any better today than before 9/11. Employees have had their food and drinks taken away by the TSA. I don't think this is a good idea.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As an airline employee at a small airport i would be curious as to more specific information how this is implemented as it would have to be custom tailored for every airport.

Being that with the smaller airports who have minimal staffing, and at times may have to enter/leave the sterile area multiple times in excess of the standard, say 20 times in a shift for various reasons, FA forgot to inform about a pax with special needs, pax checking a bag at the cutoff time or less having to run it to the plane at the last minute, etc, this really puts a hurt on the situation. Many airlines have reduced staffing and some locations can't be reduced any further. IF this is implemented it would necessitate that the TSA force the
airlines to hire more workers which
as an end result would increase the ticket prices quite a bit. The
time needed for the screening depending on what is done would end up having the ultimate affect on the passengers either in a monetary
value or in wasted time due to irregular operations or similar situation.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Show us the full frontal MMW pics now! Or else....we'll write angry blogs that you'll continue to ignore because you've already told us why you haven't yet...

Does anyone get the message in here?

Submitted by Dunstan on

"Anonymous said...

All of the arguments that you make against performing checks of all airport employees when they enter a secure area, could be made for any other secure area (prisons, nuclear plants, other critical infrastructure}. I work in a nuclear power plant, where we have all had background checks, know each other, and are subject to continuous scrutiny by security. Yet we are screened each and every time we enter the secure areas. I think that it is vital that these checks of airport employees be performed and it should quickly become mandatory at all airports.

May 8, 2008 7:00 PM"

A very good point. They should be screened on the way out as well. Employees of precious metal refining, fabrication and jewelry making facilities are screened upon exit to make sure valuables stay within the building. This is a good use for the MMW.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Millimeter wave will allow our TSOs to view a noninvasive image of a passenger revealing any items that were not divested. These images are friendly enough to post in a preschool. Heck, it could even make the cover of Reader’s Digest and not offend anybody."

Blogger Bob posted the words quoted above.

My question to Blogger Bob, do you stand by these remarks regarding the MMW images?

If so why will you not post front and rear images that have been asked for so many times? Why will you not discuss this issue?

Blogger Bob= Zero Credibility

Not going away!!


Are you going to censor this post also?

Submitted by Anonymous on

anonymous said.....

Do what is being required of the flying public, add two hours to your schedule.

Does this make your time 4hours?

Submitted by Anonymous on

jeff,

I CONSISTENTLY see guys dressed like "thugs" walk down the employee line at Chicago Midway and O’Hare with a badge on a lanyard around their neck and go right through security with no pat downs or metal detectors. And even ones that were wearing a “uniform” were allowed to wear ones that are four sizes too big and a non-uniform ball cap…sideways. That’s REALLY professional and confidence inspiring let me tell you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Screen employees and TSA staff exactly like you do a traveler.

If any item in the hands of a traveler is dangerous or prohibited then it should not be permitted in the seclusion area.

So only 3oz of jet fuel per truck, no tools, no beverage trucks, no airlines!

Sounds and is ridiculous, just like the liquids and shoe policies for travelers.
Not to mention the virtual strip search MMW WBI machines that TSA won't post images from.

Just think, DHS and TSA is getting new senior staffing in a few months. I wonder if they will screw this up as much as the current crew.


POST THE MMW WBI IMAGES

Submitted by Anonymous on

Are you ever going to post those frontal MMW images???

Submitted by Anonymous on

re: Does this make your time 4hours?

May 9, 2008 10:19 AM

........................
Not sure if your post was a smart a__ comment or what.

TSA suggest that travelers arrive two hours before their flight to allow time to clear security.

I suggest if airport workers, TSA included, need to clear a security checkpoint so they can report for work then they allow themselves enough time to do so.

When you go to work can you add your commute time to your workday?

Why should TSA or airport workers be able to do so?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The answer is simple. Treat everyone, and I mean everyone, like a potential criminal. Pat downs, body scans, and even cavity searches if necessary. Ve mus be safe, comrades.

Welcome to Soviet Amerika.

Submitted by RB on

At my airport (ORF) we check the airport employees already. They have to go through security each time they enter the sterile area. This includes walking through the WTMDs each time. TSOs, however, do not. Our belongings are xrayed each time, though.

I am a TSO, and I would go through the MMW. It's definitely safe and secure. I would send my one year old daughter through it, too.

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