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As TSA tries to quell reports of the misconduct and criminal activity by TSA worker by touting Pre-check benefits to those not even enrolled, an investigation reveals that problems at Pittsburgh airport run far deeper than originally reported.
Unfortunately, if TSA’s past conduct is any indication there will be no follow up by agency management nor any public reaction. At best they will issue some tired old PR line to the effect that “TSA workers are held to the highest standards” or “TSA does not tolerate worker misconduct” but will do absolutely nothing to truly address what has become a chronic problem with this corrupt agency.
Records reveal more disciplinary actions against Pittsburgh TSA screeners
Violations include drugs, alcohol & shoplifting
They are our first line of defense at the airport.
But a Channel 4 Action News investigation finds increasing numbers of Transportation Security Administration screeners in Pittsburgh are getting in trouble.
For some travelers, dealing with TSA screeners can be an unnerving experience.
“All the pat downs, just grabbing up on you, it’s like being in prison or something,” said Scott Farrar, of Wellsville, Ohio. They get up close and personal with you, so WTAE wanted to find out how often they get in trouble.
Channel 4 Action News obtained the disciplinary records after filing a Freedom of Information request. The documents detail a wide range of bad behaviors by TSA agents at Pittsburgh International Airport.
The punishments range from reprimand to suspension to termination or removal. The number of disciplinary actions against TSA employees at Pittsburgh International more than doubled from just 15 in 2008 to 33 last year.
That came as a surprise to former TSA agent Bill Dangel, who left the agency eight years ago. “There was disciplinary action taken against some of the employees while I was there, but not to the extent of that,” he said.
The union representing TSA employees says the crackdown comes as a result of the agency trying to ensure discipline is consistent. But the effect on employees has been devastating. “Morale has definitely dropped … There’s no room for error, so I think the stress takes its toll,” said union vice president Joan Wanner.
Passengers at Pittsburgh International were also stressed when they heard about the increase in disciplinary actions. “I think it’s awful and, yes, it does surprise me. They’re supposed to keep us safe,” said Nancy Sirofchuck, of Mercer.
“It makes me worried they could be taking stuff from me. It doesn’t make me want to fly,” said Paige Conrad, of Cranberry Township.
Recently, dozens of employees were suspended or reprimanded for taking part in gambling pools.
TSA refused a request for an interview. In a statement, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said, “At TSA Pittsburgh, expectations are clear, management holds the workforce accountable and we routinely receive compliments about our employees’ professionalism and customer service. TSA maintains a zero tolerance for misconduct and disciplinary action is taken when warranted.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy said he is concerned that TSA is not being more transparent about why employees are being disciplined. “Under a circumstance like this the public’s going to start to question, are you indeed making sure that those who are not of the highest standard are not working there,” Murphy said.
Former FBI agent and LaRoche College professor Bob Mitchell said the TSA needs to do the same thing as any other good law enforcement agency.
“Hire experienced people, train them well, pay them well, and I think you’ll have a good service,” Mitchell said.
Last year a government audit blasted the TSA for inconsistent discipline, giving the lowest possible penalty for half the screeners caught sleeping on the job.
Allegheny County Airport Authority spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny issued this statement to Channel 4 Action News:
“Airport security and safety are the top priorities at Pittsburgh International Airport, which the Allegheny County Airport Authority and Allegheny County police, along with TSA Pittsburgh focus on daily. Whether it’s the flying public, our employees, or visitors in question, we work along with the airlines and other tenants to meet all security requirements. Our working relationship with TSA Pittsburgh is excellent and often passengers submit comments that commend TSA staff for their care and customer service at our checkpoints.”