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New law is not the solution

Again, here we are after another terrorist attack/attempt, and Congress decides to take action without direction so it looks like we’re doing something. We have to much of this in aviation security, looking like we’re doing something without actually doing it. Too bad the bad guys are doing it the other way around. Perhaps some of these Congressional staffers who do the actual policy making, should pick up a book on aviation security and read how the system works sometime – I can make some recommendations if they’d like. Continue Reading

“All you did today was weaken a country”

The headline is from the movie “A Few Good Men,” spoken by Jack Nicholson. With Erroll Southers bowing out under pressure from Sen. Jim DeMint from his appointment to head TSA, all that has happened is that the country is less safer today. DeMint’s assertion that Southers position on collective bargaining was unfounded as there are plenty of provisions for federal employees who are part of a union to ensure they don’t all walk out the door, and still remain flexible enough to respond to rapidly changing threats. Continue Reading

Profiling

A recent Gallup poll showed that many American’s support ethnic profiling in our airports. I do not. Here’s why. It doesn’t work.

The question is often asked, should we profile? Well, not profiling is like saying “don’t breathe.” We all profile whether we want to or not. It’s in our DNA.

Ever since we were chasing Wildebeests across the Serengeti with a club a few thousand years ago we came with this built in survival instinct. When we walk into a room or down a street, we stay aware of our surroundings or else we may become a victim of crime, getting run over by a car or some other hazard. We feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings so you may not experience this on a daily basis, but if you ever want to test this theory, go to an unfamiliar part of town. You will immediately find yourself assessing your surroundings and the people within them. You will look at someone else and immediately try to decide whether they are a threat. How will you know, you’ll pay attention to body cues that your body has paid attention to since birth. Continue Reading

The Real Problem with TSA (and the industry)

I say this knowing full well that I am an educator, a trainer in the aviation security industry, and the co-author of a textbook on aviation security, but the real problem with TSA (and many others in control of aviation security), is the lack of individuals that are formally trained in aviation security and who are unfamiliar with the aviation industry.

Myself and my industry counterparts have seen it for years. In fact, ever since TSA was formed, the problem has remained the same. TSA was started with tons of people who, while good intentioned, did not possess experience in aviation nor in aviation security. Many airport operators also put people in charge of aviation security who may have had good law enforcement or military backgrounds but did not understand aviation. Continue Reading

Rx for Aviation Security

In recent interviews on Denver’s Fox 31 News and on 9News, I tried to answer the most commonly asked question whenever there is a security incident: “How can we improve the system?” A good follow up question to that is: “At what point does all this security just cost too much?” The answers to both of these questions are interrelated.

At some point, security will cost too much. It will cost too much money, too much time and too much of a compromise of our civil rights. The solution is to improve the system through a strategy of reducing the number of people that we our looking at.

Whole Body Imagers can be effective but they take up a lot of space, may need stronger floors to sit upon and there may be additional power requirements. To replace all of the metal detectors in the U.S. will be costly in terms of both money and security wait times. Continue Reading

Under the Spotlight

According to CBS News in L.A., TSA faces allegations that its employees at Los Angeles International Airport were caught on tape using drugs. The investigation began last year when a TSA worker was arrested for allegedly counterfeiting parking passes in the employee lot.

In South Carolina at the Greenville-Spartnburg International Airport, a bomb sniffing dog gave a possible alert that caused the evacuation of B concourse and a Delta flight. A bomb detection team found nothing.

In Newark, where recently a security breach caused the evacuation of Terminal C, the video camera that was supposed to see the exit lane where the breach occurred was not working. The breach resulted in thousands of passengers having to be re-screened and flights delayed.

I bring up these three incidents as newsworthy, but only newsworthy in the sense that we are once again keeping the spotlight on aviation security. I’ve tracked hundreds of these types of incidents. . . Continue Reading

Getting it right, getting it wrong

It seems that Rep. John Mica has joined the opposition to the appointment of Erroll Southers to the head of TSA. Mica is criticizing what he perceives is Southers lack of executive management experience. Among rumors that Southers was nominated only after more qualified candidates passed on the opportunity as being unwilling or reluctant to serve, Mica is blasting both Southers position on collective bargaining for TSA screeners and what he calls Southers “second-tier” leadership experience.

Meanwhile, an article ran today on The Daily Breeze.com addressing measures the Los Angeles International Airport is taking to increase security. LAX has been one of the airports on the forefront of aviation security taking additional measures, studying counterterrorism methods and employing them where appropriate. Did I mention that Erroll Southers is from LAX!

After hearing Erroll lecture to a classroom full of airport security coordinator trainees in a class I was training last June in Los Angeles, I was immediately impressed with his poise, knowledge and learned perspectives on aviation and transportation security. Continue Reading

Who is responsible for airline security?

Ask virtually anyone on the street “who is responsible for airline security,” and the answer will most likely be, “TSA.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and could mean that airlines will have to pay more and take on more security responsibilities for their international flights.

While TSA sets forth and enforces the regulations, there are many players and many layers within the aviation security system, and it’s important to know who’s who and what’s what because it could make a difference in the security of the plane you’re on.

Recently, after the failed Christmas bombing, TSA dished out several security procedures … Continue Reading

Security has a real cost

Finally, nine years after 9/11 and people are starting to understand the real economic impact of security.

Today, CBS news reported that a 2008 survey showed that 41 million trips were avoided due to security hassles resulting in a cost of $28 billion to the U.S. economy. Business travelers have options such as web casts, telecommuting, and even driving to shorter destinations. While corporate aircraft sales have not seen a real increase as a result of aviation security rules, it looks like there has still been an uptick in corporate aircraft travel through the use of fractionals and charter credit-style card usage.

Today, Transport Canada announced that only certain items would be allowed in carry-on baggage and are actively discouraging carry-on’s. This is THE problem. We have the technology, know-how and effective security practices, such as behavior profiling, to implement an aviation security system that does not require the passenger to conform to the rules, but the processes to conform to the passenger (sometimes still known as the “customer”).
Continue Reading

Playing with Fire

Absurd: wildly unreasonable, illogical or inappropriate. Pick one of these descriptors and they all apply to the recent news about Erroll Southers, President Obama’s appointee to head TSA.

So now some information has come out about Erroll Southers and that he forgot to tell Congress about an alleged misdeed he did about 20 years ago. Well, so what?

First, remember that this is how people are attacked today when someone has a beef and no legitimate argument to stand on. See, a certain Congressman has a problem with Southers’ views on TSA employees receiving collective bargaining so he has held up Southers’ confirmation to be the director of TSA. Rather than debate Southers on the subject, it seems it’s easier to just try to discredit him so people are digging for dirt. That’s nonsense considering that TSA desperately needs leadership right now. Continue Reading

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