Friday, December 2, 2011

TSA Week in Review: Smooth Travel This Holiday Season – Plus Machetes Too!

2 1/2" Blade From Walking Stick (ORD)
2 1/2" Blade From Walking Stick (ORD)
I’m back! I’ve been off on vacation, but have no fear, because I’m back in the cockpit and ready to navigate my cubicle through the blogosphere. 

The busiest travel time of the year has passed and I have to say the data is impressive. We are pleased to report that screening operations during the Thanksgiving holiday at the nation’s airports went smoothly overall. With over 12.38 million people who traveled this Thanksgiving more than 99 percent of passenger’s screening experience took less than 20 min. We appreciate the partnership of the traveling public to make this a safe holiday travel season. 

Now for the wacky stuff…
Machetes were found in two separate incidents at Philadelphia (PHL) and Los Angeles (LAX) with one of the blades measuring 14 ½ inches. I wasn’t aware of any overgrowth at PHL and LAX. Perhaps we should notify the grounds crew?
Grenade Found At GSP
Grenade Found At GSP
In a fashion similar to turducken, an inert grenade was found stuffed in a sock that was stuffed in a shoe at Greenville (GSP). Read here and here why even inert grenades at the airport are a problem.
Not counting all of the usual items our officers find, this week they also found stun guns including one disguised as cell phone, brass knuckles, switchblades, a kubaton/knife combo, butterfly knives, firearm components, collapsible batons, throwing stars, a cat’s eye, an asp, a 7” military knife, a 6½-inch double sided dagger, pepper spray, ammunition, and a 3 1/8” double bladed knife.
Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home.  
Military Knife Found at BWI
Military Knife Found at BWI
Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to double check your luggage before you get to the airport. 

On the other hand, there are artfully concealed items... 
Artfully Concealed Items: Artfully concealed means that the prohibited item was intentionally concealed with the intention of sneaking it through securityFor example, I blogged about this artfully concealed item yesterday: A stun gun disguised as a smart phone. 

A 2½-inch blade, manufactured as part of a walking stick, was detected during checkpoint screening at Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Our officers found 23 loaded firearms in carry-on baggage since last Friday. (Not counting the unloaded ones we found). Here’s a rundown of the loaded weapons we kept off of airplanes this week:
11/27/2011: TSA Officer at ONT detects a loaded .40 pistol with a round in the chamber.
11/28/2011: TSA Officer at IAH detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
11/28/2011: TSA Officer at EWR detects a loaded pistol.
11/28/2011: TSA Officer at RIC detects a loaded .38 pistol.
11/28/2011: TSA Officer at GPT detects a loaded .22 pistol.
11/29/2011: TSA Officer at ABI detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
11/29/2011: TSA Officer at BNA detects a loaded .38 pistol with a round in the chamber.
11/29/2011: TSA Officer at TPA detects a loaded .22 pistol.
11/29/2011: TSA Officer at CRP detects a loaded .40 pistol.
11/29/2011: TSA Officer at SAT detects a loaded .380 pistol.
11/29/2011: TSA Officer at DFW detects a loaded .40 pistol.
11/30/2011: TSA Officer at GSP detects a loaded .38 pistol.
11/30/2011: TSA Officer at MCI detects a loaded .38 pistol with a round in the chamber.
11/30/2011: TSA Officer at AUS detects a loaded .38 pistol.
11/30/2011: TSA Officer at IAH detects a loaded .38 pistol.
11/30/2011: TSA Officer at ATL detects a loaded .38 pistol.
12/1/2011: TSA Officer at PWM detects a loaded 9mm pistol.
12/1/2011: TSA Officer at CMH detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
12/1/2011: TSA Officer at CRW detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
12/1/2011: TSA Officer at STL detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
12/1/2011: TSA Officer at ACT detects a loaded pistol.
12/1/2011: TSA Officer at AUS detects a loaded .380 pistol.
12/1/2011: TSA Officer at DFW detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms.
 
We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way.

Including checkpoint and checked baggage screening, TSA has 20 layers of security both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system.  A terrorist who has to overcome multiple security layers in order to carry out an attack is more likely to be pre-empted, deterred, or to fail during the attempt.

TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.


33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bob, for the weekly TSA police log.

It's much easier to post a police log than to answer the tough questions other commenters have asked, such as about the ineffectiveness of gate searches and gate ID checks; about the privacy violations of BDO's asking about travelers' travel plans; and about the complete arbitrariness of the new policy that the shoes of those under age 12 pose no threat but the shoes of older kids and adults are suddenly risks.

[Screenshot captured.]

Anonymous said...

Why no comment on the TSO who illegally took a loaded weapon into the secure area?

Anonymous said...

How about this one:
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/florida-teen-detained-tsa-design-her-purse-221835034.html

Confiscating a purse because the bag has the image of a gun on it. Since when is it a Federal offense to have a logo of a gun on an item.

So who is going to be retrained for this one?

Anonymous said...

So you "caught" a 17-year-old trying to get on a plane with a gun design on her purse. That is just sad. There was no gun. There were no bullets or gunpowder. Yet your organization made her 1) miss her flight, and 2) check her bag simply because of a matter that boils down to freedom of expression. Waiting for the lawsuit in 3... 2... 1...

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob Said:
"With over 12.38 million people who traveled this Thanksgiving more than 99 percent of passenger’s screening experience took less than 20 min."

So you wasted about 4 million person/hours in one day and you are proud of that?

This is lost time that those people will never get back.

IraqVet said...

Good job girls, how did we ever survive without you?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
A teenage girl's sense of style got her in trouble at the airport.

Vanessa Gibbs, 17, claims the Transportation Security Administration stopped her at the security gate because of the design of a gun on her handbag.

Gibbs said she had no problem going through security at Jacksonville International Airport, but rather, when she headed home from Virginia.

"It's my style, it's camouflage, it has an old western gun on it," Gibbs said.

But her preference for the pistol style didn't sit well with TSA agents at the Norfolk airport.

Gibbs said she was headed back home to Jacksonville from a holiday trip when an agent flagged her purse as a security risk.

"She was like, 'This is a federal offense because it's in the shape of a gun,'" Gibbs said. "I'm like, 'But it's a design on a purse. How is it a federal offense?'"

After agents figured out the gun was a fake, Gibbs said, TSA told her to check the bag or turn it over.

By the time security wrapped up the inspection, the pregnant teen missed her flight, and Southwest Airlines sent her to Orlando instead, worrying her mother, who was already waiting for her to arrive at JIA.

"Oh, it's terrifying. I was so upset," said Tami Gibbs, the teen's mom. "I was on the phone all the way to Orlando trying to figure out what was going on with her. It was terrifying. I don't ever want to go through it again."

Vanessa and her mom said it's hard to believe anyone could mistake the design on the purse for a real gun because it's just a few inches in size and it's hollow, not to mention Vanessa has taken it on planes before.

"I carried this from Jacksonville to Norfolk, and I've carried it from Norfolk to Jacksonville," Vanessa said. "Never once has anyone said anything about it until now."

TSA isn't budging on the handbag, arguing the phony gun could be considered a "replica weapon." The TSA says "replica weapons have prohibited since 2002."

It's a rule that Vanessa feels can't be applied to a purse.

"Common sense," she said. "It's a purse, not a weapon."

A TSA official at JIA said it's not that uncommon for passengers to wear something that could be considered a gun replica, but the official encourages everyone to check the prohibited items list, which can be found online or at the airport before going through security.

Nadav said...

Twenty minutes? It's a pretty long time. I've been to many airports this year, and the only one that required a long time was Schonefeld in Berlin because they didn't have X-ray machines for checked-in baggage, and my airline demanded a baggage check.

Something is definitely not right if it takes someone 20 minutes to go through security.

Nadav

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work TSA guys. All I'm seeing are negative comments, but there are a lot of us, perhaps more silent, that truly appreciate your keeping us safe.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Speaking for myself, the TSA does NOT have a "partnership with the traveling public". The TSA has a monopoly that forces travelers through a series of unwelcomed and distasteful procedures in order to board a plane.

Ask any frequent business traveler what they think of the TSA, the word description is certainly NOT "partnership".

Pakmela Keown said...

What about the plastic gun shaped purse decoration? Can you explain that one?

Chris Boyce said...

I guess you overlooked this week's Profile in Professionalism: http://tinyurl.com/85-yr-old-strip-search.

I'm also curious about the comment your co-worker, Lisa Farbstein, made stating that you people had reviewed the closed-circuit TV (CCTV) in the "private room." Are you secretly videotaping clothing removal?

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to the ignorant bashers. Same goes for certain GOP folks who criticize and slam TSA. They twist the data and spin the story to further their own agendas. Such as the alleged 25,000 security breaches since TSA rolled out. 98% of those "breaches" are not breaches at all; they are access violations by airline and airport staff, or other folks trying to jump the perimeter fences. TSA continues to do a great job, and most of the staff treats the passengers with dignity and respect. A move to go back to contractor screening would be extremely careless and downright negligent. I wonder if Mica is receiving campaign funding from these private contractors? Don't think the bad guys aren't watching and plotting. How soon the ignorant forget the past.....shame on them.

Anonymous said...

I work for TSA and haven't seen this list! Amazing job guys! And keep your head up, you're doing fine! Don't be discouraged by the naysayers who just prattle because they have nothing else to do!

Anonymous said...

What? No listing of the various small quantities of marijuana your spiffy, expensive body scanners found?

RB said...

None of these finds offset TSA doing things like strip searching a 85 year old woman.

AS long as TSA continues to allow this type of behavior on the part of TSA screeners the public will reject any thing and every thing TSA says it is doing to improve aviation safety.

And yes this story reflects on each and every TSA employee from Pistole to the person hired yesterday.


TSA Strip Searches Another Grandmother



"85-year-old woman may sue TSA after being strip searched at JFK Airport

'I really look like a terrorist,' 110-pound Long Island grandmother says

BY Nicholas Hirshon
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Friday, December 2 2011, 9:36 PM"

RB said...

TSA Week at a Glance: 11-21-11 through 11-27-11

1 artfully concealed prohibited item found at checkpoints

12 firearms found at checkpoints

1 passenger was arrested after investigation of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents
...............

Seems like someone is stacking the deck.

Anonymous said...

Great job, TSA. Once again, guilty until proven innocent.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/12/03/85-year-old-grandmother-to-sue-tsa-after-strip-search-at-jfk-airport/?test=latestnews

Anonymous said...

Terrorists caught by the TSA = 0. Normal people harrassed and radiated: 300 Million.

Anonymous said...

This is a great story to help avoid talking about strip searching 85 year old grandmothers and hassling people over a picture of a gun.

Face it blogger bob(s)....

TSA has no credibility. We know that stories about how great the TSA is on the TSA blog are just to obscure the fact that America doesn't trust the TSA to be anything other than fools doing security theater.

And those are the people who don't out and out hate TSA as big fast oil spill on the slippery slope into a police state.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work TSA guys. All I'm seeing are negative comments, but there are a lot of us, perhaps more silent, that truly appreciate your keeping us safe.

December 3, 2011 7:45 AM

---------------------------------

Yep, we're safe from teenage girls carrying purses with gun designs on them.

Yay.

Anonymous said...

Wow look at all these wild and yuck yuck "wacky" things happening in the wild world of TSA security.

You might want to add another "wild and wacky" thing that happened this week to your list. An 84 year old, wheelchair bound grandmother was strip searched, by the TSA. The reason? For our safety. Thanks TSA I feel so much better knowing that old people are being kept out of the sky. Their too slow and take up too much room anyways with all their medical needs.

Americans, we must use our constitutional power, and terminate the entirety of the TSA program. WE don't need the opinion of some "security experts" we only need to decide that the TSA isn't in our interest and make it disappear!

Anonymous said...

"I work for TSA and haven't seen this list! Amazing job guys! And keep your head up, you're doing fine! Don't be discouraged by the naysayers who just prattle because they have nothing else to do!"

Yes, to those who profit by violating the civil rights of disabled grandmothers - among others - that prattling would likely get old.

Anonymous said...

I smell Ron Paul disciples squaring off on this thread, you know, the anti-TSA contingent who think they are making gains in converting people to their POV. Fact is, the vast majority of travelers appreciate the efforts of TSA the way people do police officers.

Sure, there are a few bad apples in TSA, but you'll also find bad apples in all occupations from police departments to the medical profession.

By far, TSA has done an exceptional job at preventing travelers from boarding with prohibited items. Terrorists know that it's now harder for them to board a plane in the US with weapons, explosives or deadly components thereof. That's why it's imperative that security measures at foreign airports be as strict as ours, because it is there where terrorists will attempt to board and wreak havoc on US airspace.

Anonymous said...

To those who despise TSA and use the "How many terrorists has TSA captured? Zero!" argument as a way to augment their argument, need to understand that TSA's primary job is to ensure safety of the traveling public.

TSA job is not to capture terrorists, per se, although if terrorists do attempt to use US airports to conduct another terrorist act, they'll be on top ready to stop them in their tracks.

It is the job of law enforcement, the US military and the intelligence community to physically and neutralize terrorists.

Anonymous said...

This weekend, I was waiting in the security line in Atlanta after clearing customs. A TSO walked up carrying a tub of many half filled liquid bottles that had been confiscated at the checkpoint. He proceeded to dump these bottles into the normal trash can next to me.

This didn't seem like a safe way to dispose of potentially dangerous liquids. I wanted to question the TSO about this, but feared a retaliatory screening. Why are these liquids allowed to be disposed of in such a careless manner, if they actually are so dangerous? It looked like mostly water and soda bottles.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"TSA job is not to capture terrorists, per se, although if terrorists do attempt to use US airports to conduct another terrorist act, they'll be on top ready to stop them in their tracks."

Really? How?

If the scanner shown someone has 10 lbs of C4 and a detonator under their cloths what are the TSA inspectors going to do? Ask them to please step aside for a pat-down?

If an actual terrorist shows up the airport the TSA isn't going to do any good.

Anonymous said...

"Don't listen to the ignorant bashers. Same goes for certain GOP folks who criticize and slam TSA."

Allowing political comments now, Bob?

" They twist the data and spin the story to further their own agendas. Such as the alleged 25,000 security breaches since TSA rolled out. 98% of those "breaches" are not breaches at all; they are access violations by airline and airport staff, or other folks trying to jump the perimeter fences. "

The breaches are reported by the TSA.

"TSA continues to do a great job, and most of the staff treats the passengers with dignity and respect."

From my perspective as a frequent traveler, the TSA does neither a good job nor does it treat passengers with dignity. Ask the 84 year old grandmother at JFK if she feels she was treated with diginity.

" A move to go back to contractor screening would be extremely careless and downright negligent."

How is this so? Contractor screening currently being conducted scores as well or better than TSA screening.


" I wonder if Mica is receiving campaign funding from these private contractors?"

And I wonder if you're receiving a paycheck from the TSA?

" Don't think the bad guys aren't watching and plotting. How soon the ignorant forget the past.....shame on them."

And don't think we're not watching the TSA. Hardened cockpit doors have eliminated the threat.

Anonymous said...

So you wasted about 4 million person/hours in one day and you are proud of that?

This is lost time that those people will never get bac

Then Drive. See how much more time you will never get back

Anonymous said...

"By far, TSA has done an exceptional job at preventing travelers from boarding with prohibited items. "

Audits, before they were declared SSI, showed that the TSA missed about 70% of prohibited items. This is not an exceptional job by any standard.

Recent comments from Congressional leaders suggest that these results persist today.

Anonymous said...

Were any of those items actually intended for use to hijack a plane? If not, they're harmless, aren't they?

Powers Security said...

Awareness of what is happening prevents 95% of the problems out there. I am a former police officer and now a private investigator. It never ceases to amaze me when doing private security what I come across. The amount of threats averted are staggering. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

"I am a former police officer and now a private investigator."

And that's exactly the problem. The threat presented to commercial air travel is too sophisticated for individuals with this background. What is needed in an intelligence-based program.

Leave policing to policmen and security to security professionals. Everyone will be happier and safer.

jo @ fashionox said...

Thank you for sharing such a great post to us blogger bob.

@Navda "Something is definitely not right if it takes someone 20 minutes to go through security"

I agree. definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post nice post, thanks for sharing.