ALPA Applauds TSA Review of Checkpoint-Screening Protocols

August 23 - ALPA has told the Transportation Security Administration that the Association heartily approves of the TSA’s decision to review its protocols for screening at airport security checkpoints. 

In a letter to Kip Hawley, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, ALPA’s President, Capt. Duane E. Woerth, said that the Association strongly endorses the concept of exempting airline crewmembers--and other persons whose trustworthiness has been demonstrated--from traditional physical screening procedures. This position, ALPA said, is consistent with the TSA adopting a sound risk-management approach that is paramount to the ultimate success of the agency’s aviation security-related efforts.

“We cannot afford to indiscriminately ‘throw money’ at all potential threats,” Capt. Woerth noted. “Thousands of airline pilots pass through screening checkpoints every day, requiring the unnecessary expense, time, and attention of TSA screening staff whose expertise is better devoted to identifying actual threats to the traveling public.

“Security is diminished by expending limited security resources, and the traveling public’s time, on physical examination of airline pilots and other individuals who have been prescreened through an extensive security process involving fingerprint-based criminal history and background checks. Clearly, the Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) and the Registered Traveler program are both needed to positively identify those individuals whose trustworthiness has been determined in advance.”

The TWIC card includes biometric information that can be used to verify the identity of persons with access to secure areas of the U.S. transportation system. The TSA expects that an estimated 200,000 transportation workers in 40-plus transportation facilities across the country will participate in the ongoing third, or prototype, phase of the TWIC development program. 

As he recently testified before Congress, Capt. Woerth emphasized that the TSA needs to put more effort into looking for passengers with criminal intent and less time looking for small, sharp objects that can be easily smuggled onto an aircraft. Reducing the number of items on the prohibited items list will allow TSA screeners more time to assess and detect passengers who show signs of criminal intent. TSA screeners need training on behavioral profiling to help them detect passengers who may pose a threat while aboard an aircraft.

Capt. Woerth offered ALPA’s support to the TSA in accelerating deployment of TWIC “as part of the agency’s threat-driven, risk-managed approach to security.”