Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why We Do What We Do: Shift Briefs

Lynn’s husband asked a question similar to this after a recent trip, and we also get this question from people on the blog:

“When I’m going past the checkpoint, I see a group of officers standing over to the side. What are they doing? “

Maybe it’s happened to you, too: you’re in the line waiting go to through the checkpoint and you see a large group of officers near the checkpoint standing around and talking. Your first thought is probably “why in the heck don’t they use these officers to open more lanes?”

Are they trying to figure out how many officers it takes to change a light bulb? Are they getting ready to make a human pyramid? Nope…

The most likely reason is that it’s time for a shift change. Officers receive an in-brief and out-brief at the beginning and end of their shifts. During the course of a day, officers on the same shift are routinely assigned different tasks and are never in the same place at the same time. These two occasions are opportune times to get the entire shift together and disseminate important information and assign tasks for the day etc. This is a time when officers can communicate with their supervisors and managers and bring things to light. This is when critical intelligence is shared or information relating to an FBI BOLO or Amber Alert is distributed.

Sometimes these briefings take place in rooms outside of the public view and other times there just isn’t any space at a particular airport and briefings have to be conducted in a public area.

There can also be other reasons for smaller groups of officers to convene at the checkpoint.

Officers are sent to breaks and lunches in groups and before they return to duty, they usually meet near the checkpoint to wait for a lead or supervisor to give them their next assignment.

We also have teams of officers sent to various locations to randomly screen airport employees. Even if nobody is being screened, officers need to stay at this location for a specific period of time.

Officers also frequently use cell phones to communicate in larger airports where radios might not reach everywhere. So while it may look like an officer is making a personal call, they are in fact doing their job. Use of personal cell phones while on duty is not permitted.

We understand it’s human nature to assume folks are just doing nothing, but in a public job like this one, our officers are like the gold fish in the bowl swimming around for everyone to see. Everything they do is open to a different interpretation by each passenger. I just wanted to give you a few explanations to clear things up.


EoS Blog Team