3,700 FL Airport Security Uniforms and Badges Lost

Tampa – Records indicate employees of the federal agency charged with airport security and screening on commercial airlines reported 3,700 uniforms and security badges missing or stolen within the past five years.

The Transportation Security Administration says that the lost badges and uniforms do not pose a significant threat because codes to access certain areas can be deactivated. Security officers also work in teams, so imposters would certainly be easily spotted and stand out.

However, the missing items are raising eyebrows in Washington. United States Representative Lamar Smith, said he is seeking a solution to resolve the issue.

According to records, the Transportation Security Administration reported at least 1,868 uniforms and 1,806 identification cards lost or stolen. This includes 63 uniforms and 91 ID cards issued to TSA employees at Tampa International airport. Los Angeles International Airport reported about 789 missing items and Miami International Airport reported 103 missing items — the most among airports in Florida.

“Since the inception of TSA in 2002, less than 1 percent of uniforms and 1.5 percent of TSA ID cards have been lost,” TSA spokeswoman, Sari Koshetz said of Miami.

“The TSA does not see any threats or trends associated with the lost ID cards or uniforms.”

In a letter, dated on December 11th, to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Smith proposed using biometric identification systems versus using badges and imposing a national standard of sanctions on TSA employees who cannot account for their badges or uniforms.

However, Smith did not suggest any specific types of biometric identifiers, such as scanning the retina or iris of an employee’s eye among other measurements.

See also  Lighthouse Keepers -- The Right Part-time Job for You?

A number of current TSA employees have lost uniforms and identification cards, officials stated.

TSA employees are suppose to report missing or stolen ID cards or uniforms to management and, if appropriate, alert local law enforcement authorities.

Those who require access to secure areas, such as aircraft and baggage checking areas, are issued secure Identification Display Area badges by each airport, according to TSA Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley in a letter to Smith in August.

Hawley added that when secure badge access is not required, TSA employees receive a different airport issued identification badge for access to high end security areas.

Each security officer is screened at the beginning of their shift and again if they exit and return to the secure area, Koshetz said.

Even if an unauthorized person were, in fact, to obtain a TSA and a Department of Homeland Security badge and card, any card activated access through security gates or doors would be electronically decommissioned as long as an employee has reported the missing items, officials said.

TSA has employed 450 – 500 employees at Tampa International Airport since the agency was established after the September 11th attacks.

“We are trained in the business of security and that begins with familiarizing ourselves with our fellow workers and who has a right to be in a given area at any given moment,” Koshetz said.

TSA employees work in teams and would be highly likely to recognize and question a strange face in a TSA uniform.

Source: The Tampa Tribune – January 9, 2007