ALBANY, N.Y. – Thirteen Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials from across Upstate New York played a vital role in supporting security measures for the 59th Presidential Inauguration.
Volunteers from the TSA workforce from six airports across northern New York flew to the National Capital Region to work alongside U.S. Secret Service officers and hundreds of other TSA personnel from around the country at designated security checkpoints throughout Washington, D.C. They included TSA personnel from Albany International Airport, Syracuse-Hancock International Airport, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, Ithaca Tompkins International Airport, Plattsburgh International Airport and Greater Binghamton Airport.
During the deployment, TSA officers conducted physical screening of individuals who appeared at checkpoints near The White House and along the inaugural parade route. The TSA teams worked at checkpoints established by the Secret Service, to screen backpacks, duffle bags, handbags and other personal items before allowing people into the secure zones.
Several of the TSA officers who deployed to Washington, D.C., also participated in security screening for the 58th Presidential Inauguration four years earlier.
The officers stayed at a conference center about an hour’s drive outside of Washington, D.C., and were bused into the city in the wee hours of the morning. Upon arriving in the city, both officers and buses had to be screened, before arriving to their designated checkpoint locations where shifts stretched beyond 12 hours.
TSA Manager Kevin Moses of Buffalo-Niagara International Airport was stationed at a security checkpoint near The White House where members of the media were being screened. “I was honored to be a part of the security effort alongside so many representatives from other agencies. To be stationed so close to The White House was icing on the cake,” he said. In comparing the recent inauguration to the previous one four years earlier, Moses said he was struck by the enormity of the security efforts that went into this year’s event. “We definitely understood the serious nature of what we were doing in protecting this event” from any possible violence following the incident at the U.S. Capitol just two weeks earlier, he said.
Working alongside the Secret Service officers was a “fantastic opportunity,” said TSA officer Frank Scott of Greater Binghamton Airport, who also was stationed at the media screening checkpoint near The White House, where he recognized a few high-profile news reporters.
Scott also worked at the 2017 Inauguration and in comparing the two events pointed out how quiet the streets of Washington, D.C., were this year due to the lack of public access due to pre-event security threats and the pandemic. “I saw a lot of empty streets, but I knew that there would be no security incidents. It was like Fort Knox out there.”
Lead TSA officer Jackie Seabury, who usually works at Albany International Airport, said that she worked at a small checkpoint about a block from The White House screening members of the media, law enforcement officers and guests who were staying at one of the upscale hotels just a half block from The White House. “It was very safe with so many members of the National Guard, police officers from across the country and Secret Service. It was without a doubt the safest place on earth.” She added that she felt “proud and honored to serve alongside the Secret Service on the singular mission of protecting the President.”
Upon returning to her hotel, Seabury watched highlights from the Inauguration on television and while watching Vice President Kamala Harris take the oath of office, “I realized it is the exact same oath that we at TSA take. I was taken back to the day that I received my TSA badge. It gives me goosebumps” to think about, she said.
Lead TSA officer Sarita Mason, who usually works at Plattsburgh International Airport, said that she had faith in the security measures put in place by the Secret Service, and she also was impressed at the numerous members of the National Guard on site for security.
In 2016, Mason also helped screen people who attended a presidential campaign rally at Crete Memorial Civil Center in Plattsburgh, New York. She said that she hopes to be able to return to Washington, D.C., in four years to assist with security for the next Presidential Inauguration.
There were several rings of security with checkpoints around the inaugural sites, and supervisory TSA officer Ashley
Gorczyca from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport was stationed at one of the outer rings, not far from The White House. “It was a humbling experience,” she said.
Gorczyca, who also deployed for the previous inauguration, said that members of her family were anxious about her going to Washington due to the threat of possible violence, “but I told them beforehand that nothing was going to happen. It was the safest place in the whole country.” Gorczyca said that she saw many members of the National Guard and Secret Service and even spotted snipers on the roofs of buildings near The White House. She also had the opportunity to see nearby sites during her breaks, including Lafayette Square and Blair House where President Biden spent the night before his Inauguration.
“I am quite proud of the individuals who volunteered to deploy to the nation’s capital to help ensure the security of the Presidential Inauguration,” said Bart R. Johnson, Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “Their dedication to the mission of ensuring the safety of the public during this national event was significant and it is appreciated.”