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Tag: TSA

House Democrats Question Top TSA Official about Measures to Protect Workers, Passengers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Congressional Democrats questioned the top TSA official Wednesday about what the agency is doing to protect workers and the public from the quickly spreading coronavirus.

On Tuesday, three screeners at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in Northern California tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fielding questions at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, TSA Administrator David Pekoske told lawmakers that TSA agents regularly clean checkpoints and are allowing passengers to carry on large quantities of sanitizers.

“It’s going to require a little bit more screening on our part because we have to verify that that is, in fact, hand sanitizer in the bottle, but we do want to increase that volume to make it easier for passengers, particularly those that don’t check bags, to bring a volume of sanitizer with them,” Pekoske said, The Hill reports. “Because, as you know, you can go to another city and find none available on the shelves.”

Lawmakers asked Pekoske to ensure the TSA checkpoints are clean.

“Coronavirus is just one of many others to come, so we need to make sure that your workforce is prepared to address these health issues, as well as terrorist issues that are coming at us,” Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., said.

3 TSA Screeners Test Positive for Coronavirus in Northern California

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Three TSA screeners in northern California have tested positive for the coronavirus, the agency said Tuesday.

The employees work at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport and are the first TSA screeners to test positive with the coronavirus.

The agency didn’t disclose the identities of the workers.

“The officers are receiving medical care and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are quarantined at home,” the TSA said in a statement.

“Screening checkpoints remain open and the agency is working with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), as well as the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public. We will update as more information becomes available.”

The positive tests are troublesome because screeners have contact with thousands of passengers a day.

On Sunday, the FBI confirmed one of its employees from the San Francisco Division tested positive for the coronavirus.

The FBI also has ordered $40,000 worth of face masks and hand sanitizers in the event of a pandemic.

TSA Officers Would Receive Expanded Protections Under Passed House Bill

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

TSA officers would receive expanded protections like other federal employees under a bill passed by the U.S. House on Thursday.

The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act, which passed on a 230-171 vote, would give full collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections to TSA workers, who are among the lowest paid federal employees, The Hill reports.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., said when the TSA was established following Sept. 11, 2001, “its administrator was given broad authority over its workforce with respect to setting up pay and workplace conditions. As such, transportation security officers, T.S.O.’s, have been unable to benefit from fair labor standards act protections or fall under the general schedule pay scale.”

But opponents of the bill said the additional protections would compromise public safety.

“TSA has repeatedly told us that [these changes] would tie the agency’s hands related to national security policy, workforce management, and collective bargaining,” Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said on the floor. “Specifically, TSA would not be able to continue a one-step removal process for employees found to have committed serious security breaches or misconduct such as allowing unauthorized access to secure areas or allowing threat items and illicit contraband through the security checkpoints.”

Trump’s Administration Imposes Temporary Ban on TSA Hiring and OT After Budget Cuts

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s administration has imposed a temporary ban on hiring at the TSA for the second time in recent months.

The moratorium on TSA hires is expected to be lifted in late April in time for the busy travel season this summer, KUER Radio in Utah reports.

The administration also placed a temporary hold on overtime.

“In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season, the Transportation Security Administration is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods,” the TSA said in a statement. “Additionally, TSA will continue to assess applicants for entry into TSA, and will conduct two extended hiring windows to coincide with the busy summer travel season.”

The Trump administration reduced the agency’s $8.2 billion budget by $10.5 million in 2021.

Hydrick Thomas, who heads the union that represents TSA employees, said the hiring and overtime freeze is going to cause a headache.

“You always have overtime — no matter how much staff you hire. This agency has large turnover every month,” he said. “What are you going to do when you have no staff to process passengers?”

TSA Agent Described As ‘Nicest Guy You Would Meet’ Killed in Car Crash

TSA Agent Kevin Nguyen, via GoFundMe.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A TSA agent at Louis Armstrong International Airpot in Louisiana was killed in a car crash caused by a driver who ran a red light, police said.

The family of 28-year-old Kevin Nguyen is holding a fundraiser to help pay for the costs of a funeral.

Nguyen “was loved by everyone,” the GoFundMe post says. “Anyone that know Kevin know that he is the happiest, nicest guy you would meet.”

The post added, “He would go home everyday after work and tell his mom ‘I Love you Mom and you’re beautiful.’ He will be missed.”

Police said Kenner’s car was “T-boned” when a truck ran a red light at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in Kenner, La., NOLA.com reports.

The driver was taken to the hospital in non-life threatening condition. Police are awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash.

TSA Officer Accused of Coercing Woman into Twice Bearing Her Breasts

Via TSA.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A TSA officer is accused of coercing a female passenger into showing him her breasts twice during a security screening at Los Angeles International Airpot.

Johnathon Lomeli, 22, was arrested last week  on charges of fraud or deceit to falsely imprison a woman passing through security, the Associated Press reports.

Prosecutors said Lomeli told the woman he needed to inspect her bra to ensure she wasn’t concealing anything. He then told her to lift her shirt “to show me your full breasts” and then demanded she pull her pants away from her waist so he could take a look.

After telling her she was free to go, he allegedly said she had nice breasts.

2019 Was Record Year for Guns Confiscated at Airports by TSA

Guns seized at US airports, via TSA

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The TSA seized more firearms at airports in 2019 than any year in its 18-year-history.

TSA officers discovered 4,432 guns in carry-on and checked bags at checkpoints nationwide, a 5% increase over 2018, the TSA announced in a news release.

“The continued increase in the number of firearms that travelers bring to airport checkpoints is deeply troubling,” David Pekoske, the TSA’s administrator, said.

“There is a proper way to travel safely with a firearm. First and foremost, it should be unloaded. Then it should be packed in a hard-sided locked case, taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared, and checked.”

Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) ranked first among the nation’s airports with 323 firearms confiscated. DFW International Airport came in second with 217 guns confiscated. Denver International Airport (DEN), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) rounded off the top five.

All travelers, apart from law enforcement, are barred from bringing guns in airplanes, though firearms may be stored in checked luggage if all local, state and federal gun laws are followed.

You Won’t Believe the Bizarre Banned Items Confiscated at Airports in 2019

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The TSA confiscated tens of thousands of banned items at security checkpoints in 2019.

Some of the items were dangerous, and others were just strange. They ranged from slingshots and fireworks to a gun-shaped toilet paper roller, according to a compilation by The Washington Examiner.

Here is a sample of what TSA officers found: