Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day: Thank You To All Who Have Served Or Are Serving

Veteran's Day PosterI wanted to take a moment to recognize the Veterans of our armed forces. TSA employs a large number of Veterans, me included. I was in the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Division from 1988 -1991 and was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. I also took a little 6 month trip to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. I prefer Germany…

I served three years, but a friend of mine who joined the same time as I did, recently retired. It’s amazing how many places he’s been the last 20 years and how decked out his uniform is.  He and many others have made a lot of sacrifices and we should take a few moments, especially today, to think about all of the men and women who have served or are serving our country.

There are thousands of stories to tell from many of TSA and DHS’s Veterans, but here are a few I know of that I can share with you now.

This great story talks about how some of TSA’s Veterans are taking care of wounded soldiers as a part of the Wounded Warrior Escort Program. Wounded Warrior Escort program eases air travel for veterans

Here’s an opinion piece from News-Press.com from the Federal Security Director for the Southwest Florida International Airport and the Charlotte County Airport. He explains in his story how he feels the war front prepared him for a career with TSA.

Here’s a great story/video about a TSA employee and an Iraq War Veteran who served two tours with the U.S. Air Force and is now a handler for an explosive-detection dog at Denver’s DIA airport. Qualls and Rhoden:Working to keep DIA safe

DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute is an Army Veteran and she has a post up today at the White House Blog about DHS employees who have served in the military. The Department of Homeland Security's Commitment to Veterans

Thank you to all who have served or are serving. 

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.

TSA Week In Review: Sword canes, razor blade chewing gum, and a little splash of EVOO

Display of Prohibited Items Found at EWR
Display of Prohibited Items Found at EWR
Note *** The Week In Review normally lists info from Friday through Thursday. This week I won’t be including information for Thursday. Thursday’s report comes in on Friday morning and it’s a Federal Holiday. Also, I’ll be on vacation and will return on the 28th, so the next two Week In Review posts will be abridged versions.
In an odd turn of events at Orlando (MCO), a passenger who was told that her olive oil exceeded the size limit grabbed the bottle and began pouring it upon herself and our officer. I hear EVOO is good for the skin, but yeah… this is frowned upon. 

This week, our officers found not one, but two sword canes! One at Westchester (HPN) and the other at Sarasota (SRQ). These are considered artfully concealed items, but to be fare, most passengers are shocked when we show them what was concealed in their cane. Many of the canes are hand-me-downs or they were purchased at a thrift or antique store.

At Los Angeles (LAX), an anomaly was found during screening with a body scanner. The passenger stated he had burns on the inside of his leg, so the anomaly could not be cleared and the passenger was denied access to the sterile area. Law enforcement responded and the passenger later admitted that the anomaly was marijuana. We’re not looking for drugs, but we had no idea what was concealed on the passenger until he confessed. It could have easily been explosives.
Here is how a situation played out at Houston Intercontinental (IAH).

        Passenger: I have a bomb in my bag.
        Officer: What did you say?
        Passenger: I have a bomb in my bag.
        Officer: [Looking Alarmed]
        Passenger: I’m just kidding.

After this was all said and done, the passenger was allowed to rebook, but not with his original airline. He caused his original flight to be delayed by 42-minutes affecting 224 passengers.
After being told he could not take his snow globe on the flight, a passenger at Reno (RNO) thought it best to begin shouting “I am going to blow up the plane and I know how to do it.” For the record, snow globes are prohibited because the liquid is sealed inside the globe and we have no way of screening the liquid without destroying the globe. Also, shouting that you’re going to blow up a plane is never a good thing. 

Notable News This Week: The TSA Pre✓™  pilot expanded to three more airports. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX),  Las Vegas - McCarran International Airport (LAS), and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP). 

Firearm components, replica firearms, ammunition, unloaded firearms, a bb gun, stun guns, a belt buckle knife, brass knuckles, a brass knuckles belt buckle, a 6” knife, a collapsible baton, a 4” switchblade, and a butterfly knife, were among some of the dangerous items found around the nation by our officers in passenger’s carry-on bags this past week. And believe it or not, not one grenade turned up this week.

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. On the other hand, there are artfully concealed items. 

Artfully Concealed Items: Artfully concealed means that the item was intentionally concealed with the intention of sneaking it through security:
  • A razorblade was found concealed inside a pack of chewing gum at Indianapolis (IND). Something tells me that’s not so hot for your gums.
  • A brass knuckle belt buckle was found at New York LaGuardia (LGA).
  • A knife with a 4 ½” blade was found concealed in the lining of a bag at Midway (MDW).
Our officers found 24 loaded firearms in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. (Not counting the unloaded and replica ones we found). Here’s a rundown of the loaded weapons we kept off of airplanes this week:
  • 11-4: TSA Officer at  IAH detects a loaded  9mm pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-4: TSA Officer at  CVG detects a loaded  .38 pistol.
  • 11-5: TSA Officer at  MOB detects a loaded  .22 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-5: TSA Officer at  OKC detects a loaded  .40 pistol.
  • 11-5: TSA Officer at  SGF detects a loaded .38 pistol.
  • 11-6: TSA Officer at  IAH detects a loaded  .40 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-6: TSA Officer at  STL detects a loaded  .40 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-7: TSA Officer at  BZN detects a loaded  .45 pistol.
  • 11-7: TSA Officer at  ATL detects a loaded  .380 pistol.
  • 11-7: TSA Officer at  DFW detects a loaded  9mm pistol.
  • 11-8: TSA Officer at  PIT detects a loaded  .38 pistol.
  • 11-8: TSA Officer at  OMA detects a loaded  .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-8: TSA Officer at  RDM detects a loaded  9mm pistol.
  • 11-8: TSA Officer at  STL detects a loaded  .380 pistol.
  • 11-8: TSA Officer at  DEN detects a loaded  .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-8: TSA Officer at  MEM detects a loaded  .22 pistol.
  • 11-8: TSA Officer at  LIT detects a loaded  .25 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-9: TSA Officer at  DEN detects a loaded  pistol of unknown caliber.
  • 11-9: TSA Officer at  ELP detects a loaded  .32 pistol.
  • 11-9: TSA Officer at  SMF detects a loaded .22 pistol.
  • 11-9: TSA Officer at  MIA detects a loaded  9mm pistol.
  • 11-9: TSA Officer at  FLL detects a loaded  .45 pistol.
  • 11-9: TSA Officer at  ATL detects a loaded  .40 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-9: TSA Officer at  LAX detects a loaded .45 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 11-10: No Data for Thursday due to federal holiday. (Thursday’s report comes in on Friday mornings.)
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. 

Body Scanner Finds: We’re not looking for drugs, but that’s normally what we find with the scanners. We don’t know what the anomalies are until we conduct a pat-down and they could very well be dangerous items.
  • Vial of cocaine discovered in right front pocket. Sacramento (SMF)
  • Marijuana was detected in the shorts pocket of passenger. Atlanta (ATL)
  • Cocaine found in the right front pocket of passenger. Sacramento (SMF)
  • Marijuana detected in the left, rear pants pocket of passenger. San Francisco (SFO)
  • Marijuana detected in the right, front pants pocket of passenger. San Diego (SAN)
  • Marijuana detected in the right, upper leg area of passenger. Los Angeles (LAX)
Display of Prohibited Items Found At ACY
Display of Prohibited Items Found At ACY
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 check your bags before you leave.

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.

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.