TSA team at LaGuardia Airport earns DHS Secretary’s Award for Pandemic Heroism

Local Press Release
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
A group of TSA officers during the grand opening of the new Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport. (TSA photo)

WASHINGTON– The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) team at LaGuardia Airport was awarded the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Award for Pandemic Heroism.

The honor, which was announced today by DHS, was awarded to the TSA security professionals of “Team LaGuardia” for its display of uncommon bravery and dedication during the pandemic. Despite its proximity to the nation’s pandemic epicenter, TSA personnel continued to report to the airport daily, overcoming obstacles such as the subways closing due to the pandemic and rioting and civil disorder, which broke out in May. During the pandemic, the TSA group opened a state-of-the-art 17-lane security checkpoint in the newly constructed Terminal B in June, assisted neighboring airports with critical staffing and supplies and found time to assist with food and essential item distribution for the city’s homeless population.

“During the pandemic, Team LaGuardia truly exemplified the meaning of selfless public service and symbolized the true essence of TSA and DHS,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s Federal Security Director for LaGuardia Airport. “Despite the dangerous commuting conditions on the city’s mass transit system and a local healthcare system paralyzed by the virus, Team LaGuardia helped guarantee that New York City’s top domestic airport, located at the nation’s pandemic epicenter, remained open,” Duffy said.

At the outset of the pandemic, the TSA team at LaGuardia formed a special task force to centralize workforce messaging, distribute personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, and coordinated workspace cleansing and disinfecting and employee health status tracking and reporting.

During the first few months of the pandemic, the TSA team opened the new 17-lane security checkpoint and associated in-line checked baggage screening system featuring a sophisticated baggage conveyor system with a luggage conveyor belt system of approximately 17,000 feet (the equivalent of 18 city blocks) with 55 robotic mobile inspection stations. The new equipment required the personnel to complete 12,000 hours of specialized security equipment training within 90 days. The team also orchestrated the delivery and installation of 180,000 pounds of office furniture; relocated personnel to office space in the new terminal and oversaw the decommissioning of the older screening equipment.

“Throughout every phase of the pandemic and opening of the new checkpoint, our team performed its security mission without a single security incident or notable passenger wait time at any checkpoint,” Duffy pointed out.