Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Leave your shoes on?

Wouldn’t it be great to show up at a checkpoint and just when you were reaching down to untie your shoes, you heard an officer say “You can leave your shoes on.”

The TSA is well aware that the removal of shoes is not our most popular policy. In fact, it probably ranks up there with root canals and doing your taxes.

What you’ve seen up until now has been our officers enforcing an unpopular policy that is based on the unfortunate truth that intelligence tells us that terrorists are still very interested in hiding items in their shoes.

Today, the X-ray is simply the quickest, most effective way to ensure nothing is hidden inside. What you haven’t seen is all the hard work that’s been going on behind the scenes trying to find an alternative. Our experts and the private sector have been looking for ways to screen footwear while allowing passengers to keep their shoes on for quite some time.

Last year, TSA tested a shoe scanner from General Electric in Orlando. Today, we’re testing shoe scanning technology at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from L3 Communications. If all goes well, these tests could lead the way to quelling of one of our most unpopular policies.

LAX received two units from L3 Communications last week. Since this is a test to collect data, passengers will still need to remove their shoes prior to walking through the magnetometer. Hey, don’t kill the messenger. I’m just giving you a heads up! :)

DHS Science and Technology, a sister agency of TSA, is also testing this shoe scanner and will collaborate with us on their findings.

Programs like the shoe scanner, the checkpoint friendly laptop bag and diamond lanes are not only good for passenger convenience but they help to reduce the chaos and frustration at checkpoints. This is good for security because it allows more than 2,000 Behavior Detection Officers to better focus on passengers with harmful intent.

And yes, we are going to answer your top 10 questions. :)
EoS Blog Team