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Posted at 9:20 AM ET, 11/17/2010

Training for transportation screeners needs improvement, study says

By Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson

Training for transportation security officers, the screeners who inspect airline passengers and baggage, needs improving, according to a report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general.

The inspector general's office said its recommendations, "if implemented, would improve the agency's management of its screening workforce training program."

The recommendations include better documentation of the training program, creation of formal on-the-job training, use of equipment in training classrooms that is similar to equipment used at checkpoints and in checked baggage areas, and a study on the time needed for TSOs to complete required training.

The inspector general's study found that the Transportation Security Administration "may not always provide TSOs with the equipment and support they need to effectively complete required training."

It also said, "TSA does not ensure that TSOs are provided the time they need to effectively complete training requirements" and "the agency has not articulated a standard methodology to keep its training material current and relevant."

The study, completed in October, was released Tuesday by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

"In light of recent aviation security events and the new pat down process for screening passengers, training is more important than ever in both securing the aviation system and maintaining suitable privacy and customer service standards," he said. "Training is the critical lynchpin in an effective aviation security program. Without suitable training, technology and established screening processes are ineffective."

At a Senate hearing Tuesday, TSA Administrator John Pistole said TSOs are fully trained on how to use the agency's new passenger screening machines and procedures.

"I expect them to act professionally at all times and to treat all passengers with dignity and respect," Pistole told the Senate Commerce Committee. "Similarly, I ask all passengers to remember that our officers are going to keep you safe and they need your cooperation to do so. Security is a shared responsibility. During the holiday travel season, we need at all times the cooperation between TSA and the traveling public."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson  | November 17, 2010; 9:20 AM ET
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That's great. "TSA does not ensure that TSOs are provided the time they need to effectively complete training requirements"

National security. That's what they are supposed to be protecting, so no need at all to be fully and properly trained. Half-burro-ed is good enough, sure.

Posted by: hebe1 | November 17, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

TSA is a level of harrassment that discourages passenger flying. A stranger touching my genitals as a safety precaution is way to much federal intervention into my life. In fact, it's assault.

And I disagree with Pistole that his agency is keeping us safer.

I don't fly anymore. Terrorists win.

Posted by: RDP1967 | November 17, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

How do you "train" people off the streets or who formerly worked at McDonald's to stick their hands down passengers' pants and touch their genitals?

By definition, anybody who would even consider doing this for a living is a pervert, pedophile, molester, and sadist.

Posted by: solsticebelle | November 17, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

As a fact-finding experience, every Congressman, congressional spouse, and congressional children should received these "enhanced interrogation pat downs"

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 17, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I want to know about the screening procedure for these TSA "agents". How many are sex offenders? How many of them are former felons? What is their work history? Are they U.S. citizens or illegal immigrants? What is the gender of the person looking at the images? I would also like to know how, if the scans obscure the face and not the rest of the body, they can obscure the faces of children, whose faces are at the same height as an adult's crotch? Normal x-rays take 1 second and only affect an exposed part of the body. Chertoff's x-rays take 30 seconds and affect the surface of the entire body. How is this safer than a normal x-ray? The TSA claims that they do not save images taken of passengers. Do TSA agents leave their cell phones in a locker? What makes them think someone won't whip out a cell phone camera when they see a sexually arousing body on the screen? We already had a TSA agent place items in a woman's baggage and claim she was running drugs. Why don't the TSA agents change their gloves between inspecting passengers? Why do we have to put objects that we put in our hands and near our faces in the same bins as people's shoes, which may have walked through a cow pasture just an hour before? Why aren't the agents shielded from the x-ray machines? Are the agents trained in radiological techniques? How often are the machines calibrated and inspected?

Oh right. It is for our own safety because you never know when a 3 year old might pull a shiv out of her Disney princess panties.

Posted by: felisrufus | November 17, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I can't remain silent any longer. I work with TSA folks and they do not deserve the vile criticism that has been heaped upon them. Most are military veterans with at least some college education. Many come from law enforcement or corrections careers. All go through a very detailed background check. They go through at least two weeks classroom training and then on-the-job training in both baggage and personnel screening. In addition they do at 10 hours training a month to keep up with new threats. They're required to re-qualify annually.

Could the training be improved with equipment in the classrooms? Sure, but that would be inordinately expensive in all but the largest airports. Instead they train on the equipment that the passengers use during slack periods on the day (or night).

Passengers undergo enhanced pat-downs by TSO's of the same sex. The TSO's really don't like this any more that the passengers or airport employees who randomly are pat down.

These people are just doing a job made necessary due to a few radical 'crazies'. And when Osama Bin Laden hears about all the whining from Americans, he laughs.

Posted by: computersatsea | November 22, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

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