NEWARK, N.J.– Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske traveled to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) today to meet with the TSA workforce and conduct one of his regular virtual town hall meetings, which was broadcast to agency employees nationwide.
Pekoske personally spoke with TSA employees in Newark and responded to their questions.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pekoske has conducted virtual town hall meetings with the entire TSA workforce via live web stream from the agency’s headquarters. More recently, he has traveled to airports where he has spent time engaging with airport employees and federal air marshals to see and hear first-hand how the modifications to TSA checkpoints and operational policies designed to contain the spread of COVID-19 have been implemented. Today marked his 20th virtual town hall meeting.
During today’s virtual town hall, Pekoske addressed the impact of Hurricane Laura on TSA employees and their families along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana and he offered support for those impacted. He also touched on TSA employees who are in the line of spreading wildfires in California, Washington and Colorado.
On the topic of the ongoing pandemic, Pekoske praised members of the workforce for their continued vigilance and encouraged them to continue to wear gloves, masks and eye protection in an effort to protect each other and airline passengers. He also encouraged them to take necessary precautions to socially distance and wear masks when they are not at the airport.
Pekoske told employees that given the current social climate on topics of racial and social justice, he is “committed to bringing all TSA employees together through diversity and inclusion at all levels.” He also spoke about the new TSA Inclusion Action Committee assembled from leaders across the agency who are committed to directly engaging with employees to create a fully diverse and inclusive workplace at TSA.
“Respect is a core value of TSA that reminds us to foster a culture where differences are positively embraced, even those viewpoints, ideas and perspectives different from our own. This also applies to treating the public we serve with dignity and respect,” he said.
Pekoske also spent time touring operations at the airport security checkpoints with Tom Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Newark Liberty International Airport and speaking with federal air marshals from the Newark field office led by Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge Jay Koury. While on site, Pekoske saw some temporary acrylic barriers at the travel document checking station, which soon will be replaced with more robust permanent ones; signs reminding passengers of the need to socially distance; officers in protective gloves, masks and face shields; officers offering face masks to passengers who require a pat-down, but have no mask; and officers allowing up to one 12-ounce container of hand sanitizer through the checkpoint.
Pekoske also spoke about the agency’s plan to lessen touchpoints during the screening process, like IDs and passengers’ property, and explained that pursuing more touchless technology while increasing security effectiveness is one of his major priorities. He listed computed tomography, enhanced advanced imaging technology and credential authentication technology as examples of technologies that will help change the way TSA does business.