The First Line of Defense

By | September 5, 2006

The TSA fired one employee and indefinitely suspended two others, the Orlando Sentinel reports, on Friday after an internal investigation into alleged theft from luggage at Orlando International Airport.
We’ve questioned the wisdom of the TSA a great deal since we started commenting on the current security situation. Despite the fact that they have a zero-tolerance policy for theft, they have a more lax policy for ensuring their employees are up to snuff. This summer, in a test used to measure how well the TSA staff at Orlando Airport detected explosives, guns, and other threats at checkpoints, records show 501 out of 830 officers flunked. The TSA, however, insists it was only one method of evaluating their performance.

We continue to champion emphasizing people over what they carry. In a recent article, the Los Angeles Times comments that SPOT, Screening Passengers by Observation Technique, a derivative of the security used by El Al Airlines, is being implemented and test by the TSA in various cities. However, opponents worry that such techniques will lead to racial profiling and are opposed to hiring additional personnel, preferring we focus on explosives-detection technology.

Caroline Frederickson, director of the Washington legislative office for the ACLU, claims the program sets a dangerous precedent by singling out people who seem to be different. We do not think it sets such a precedent unless TSA officers are trained to look for inappropriate things. What people find suspicious has been a large topic for this blog of late, and it is clearly overboard.

Perhaps the ACLU is right. Despite the positive benefits of the program, can we trust the TSA to run it well?

Author: Guru

Guru is the Editor of Flight Wisdom and a long time aviation enthusiast.