October 6 , 2004
Shame on TSA thieves
What's your reaction to reports that the new, more qualified
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners
have been stealing millions? If we cannot trust the
integrity of those who check our bags, then how can we
be confident they will protect us?
There are problems with some TSA employees, but it would
be my assumption that the overwhelming majority of airport
screeners are doing a commendable job and are eager to
make travel safer. After all, if people don't fly, they
won't have jobs. It's in their best interest to make
travel safe and secure.
Once again, the news is that a small group has behaved
badly. They have been discovered and they will be prosecuted.
Bob Port reported in the New York Daily News some screeners
conspired to routinely steal expensive watches, bags
and laptop computers from checked luggage.
In September, the U.S. Department Homeland Security
announced it will pay $1.6 million to settle claims filed
since late 2001 by 17,600 angry air travelers. Over and
over, this column repeats a theme from the Bracher Center
for Integrity in Leadership: "It should be common
knowledge that free markets must regulate themselves
or governments will." The TSA must continue to refine
its recruiting, training and self-policing. Having been
organized to address a national emergency following 9/11,
the agency has had little time to adjust to its critical
role and gigantic challenges.
Meanwhile, travelers can take common-sense actions to
protect themselves from any dishonest screeners.
For example, wear smart clothing, including shoes that
will go through security with ease -- and be prepared
for a more in-depth search. Shipping valuables does not
seem wise, especially if they can be "carried on" and
kept with the traveler. Assume the best of those who
work in airport security. Keep careful watch of valuables.
Maintain your own personal and travel integrity. Graciousness
applies at airports. When on the plane, speak to the
people around you because they are your partners in any
emergency that occurs for whatever time you are traveling.