Déjà vu: crimes, thefts, and TSA “standards”

by Bill Fisher on December 7, 2012


Yesterday we reported on the latest TSA theft. If it sounded familiar, in more ways than one, it isn’t just a case of déjà vu. The only thing more consistent than TSA thefts in recent years is the agency’s hollow statements about TSA worker integrity and agency standards.

If the TSA holds it workers to such high standards, why have they failed to stem the rate of criminal arrests? Do they intentionally hire dishonest workers or require some character flaw as a qualification?

This incident prompts a trip down memory lane to review the TSA statements of choice by crime and locale.

Another TSA Agent Accused of iPad Theft
 Dec. 6, 2012
 A TSA agent was arrested this week and charged with stealing from passengers traveling through New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, adding to the long list of TSA officers accused of theft of passenger belongings.
TSA baggage screener Sean Henry, 32, was arrested on Tuesday after a sting operation conducted jointly by the TSA and the Port Authority Police Department caught Henry leaving the airport with two iPads that had been planted as part of the sting, as well as numerous other electronics devices he had allegedly stolen from passengers.
”TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace,” said Castelveter in a statement.

TSA agent arrested over ‘rape of young boy’ he was mentoring 
November 1, 2012
 MailOnline spoke with TSA spokesman David Castleveter who said that Magnuson was fired as a result of the arrest.
‘TSA is aware of the allegations against the former Cleveland-based employee and continues to cooperate with investigative authorities,’ Castleveter said.
‘TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and expects all employees to conduct themselves with integrity and professionalism and takes appropriate action when allegations are substantiated.’

Newark Airport workers may be fired over improper bag screening 
October 19, 2012 
Dozens of screening officers and supervisors at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of three main airports serving New York City, face dismissal or suspension for failing to search baggage properly, the Transportation Security Administration said on Friday. Eight other employees were fired as part of the same investigation in June.
TSA spokesman David Castelveter could not give details of any security lapses but said that roughly 250 bags affected last November and December were deemed safe by other parts of the screening system, and passenger safety was not threatened.
”TSA holds all of its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace,” it said in a statement, adding the dismissals and suspensions were necessary to ensure public safety.

TSA Agent Accused Of Stealing $100 From Passenger’s Wallet
 October 6, 2012
 Authorities say a Transportation Security Administration officer was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after being accused of stealing $100 from a passenger. Clyde Reese, 47, of Gardena, was arrested on suspicion of theft.
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez issued a statement, saying the agency “holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for theft.”
“In cases involving theft on duty, it is agency policy to remove the officer immediately from screening duties and terminate the officer from employment,” Melendez said.

ABC News Tracks Missing iPad To Florida Home of TSA Officer
 Sept. 27, 2012 
Confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad, but ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport.
No TSA official, including director John Pistole, would agree to be interviewed by ABC News about the issue of theft and what steps TSA has taken to address the long-standing problem.
In its statement, the TSA said it “holds its employees to the highest ethical standards.”

TSA reprimands bag screeners over job performance at Boston airport
 August 29, 2012
 The Transportation Security Administration is in the process of firing six checked-baggage screeners and suspending 14 others at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
The six people the agency has proposed firing did not always send bags that needed a secondary screening to agents in another room to perform those inspections, the spokesperson said.
”All TSA employees are held to the highest standards of conduct and accountability. These standards are critical to our work and TSA’s commitment to the safety of the traveling public,” read a TSA statement provided to CNN by another agency spokesman, David Castelveter.

Eight air marshals fired for drinking 
Jun 30, 2012
 Eight federal air marshals are being fired for drinking alcohol during training, and six others are being disciplined for not reporting it, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
The incident was reported to an internal federal air marshal website by a marshal who was there, and the TSA launched an internal investigation, Castelveter explained.
”TSA holds all of its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace,” Castelveter said in a statement. “TSA’s decision to remove the individuals involved in the misconduct affirms our strong commitment to the highest standards of conduct and accountability.”

TSA agent arrested, accused of theft at Bush Airport 
June 17, 2011 
A TSA agent accused of stealing money at Bush Airport made her first court appearance Friday. Karla Morgan was arrested and charged Thursday with misdemeanor theft. Prosecutors said she was working at a security checkpoint at Terminal B on Thursday when she kept a wallet that was turned in as lost.
“TSA holds its workforce to the highest professional standards and we act swiftly to end the federal careers of those who do not abide by these standards,” the agency said in a statement released Thursday. “The actions of this officer in no way reflect on the nearly 50,000 Transportation Security Officers who work tirelessly to protect the traveling public.”

TSA screeners allegedly let drug-filled luggage through LAX for cash
 April 25, 2012
 Four current and former Transportation Security Administration screeners have been arrested and face charges of taking bribes and looking the other way while suitcases filled with cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana passed through X-ray machines at Los Angeles International Airport, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
The TSA’s security director at LAX said the agency was assisting with the investigation. “While these arrests are a disappointment, TSA is committed to holding our employees to the highest standards,” Randy Parsons said in a statement.

TSA agent at D/FW Airport suspected of stealing iPads
 January 31, 2012
 Police suspect Clayton Keith Dovel, a Transportation Security Administration baggage inspector at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Terminal E, of stealing iPads from checked luggage.
In a statement, the TSA said Dovel is on administrative leave until the agency can sort out what happened.
”The action of one individual in no way reflects on the outstanding job our more than 50,000 security officers do every day,” the TSA added.

Honolulu TSA staff fired for negligence
 June 11, 2011
 The security boss at the Honolulu airport and 35 subordinates are being fired for failing to check luggage for bombs, officials say.
Transportation Security Administration spokesman Nico Melendez said Friday letters of “proposed termination” were sent to 36 workers and 12 more are being suspended. Melendez said 100 of the 750 TSA employees at Honolulu International were interviewed during the investigation.
”TSA holds its workforce to the highest ethical standards and we will not tolerate employees who in any way compromise the security of the traveling public,” Administrator John Pistole said.

TSA Agent Busted For Letting Drug Dealer Skip Security
 March 3, 2011
 A hefty investigation of TSA employees in Hawaii is currently underway that implicates at least 27 workers who were not properly screening checked bags for explosives (or anything else). This one the TSA would comment on, telling KITV:
We took immediate action and none of the personnel accused have been conducting screening duties since the allegations were made. TSA is proud to hold our workforce to the highest ethical standards and will not tolerate a deviation from the commitment to carry out our mission to protect the traveling public.

Two TSA agents busted at JFK Airport for stealing $160,000 from checked bags
 February 16, 2011
 Two TSA agents were busted today at Kennedy Airport for stealing $160,000 in cash from bags, authorities said. Davon Webb, 30, and Couman Perad, who turned 36 today, were arrested after admitting they had regularly stolen from checked bags, sources said.
In one instance, Perad, who joined the Transportation Security Administration in 2002, and Webb, who has been an agent since 2004, stole $39,000 on Jan. 30 from a bag at Terminal 8, sources said.
In a statement, TSA said it has “a zero-tolerance policy on theft in the workplace” and called the incidents “a disgrace.”

TSA worker admits stealing from luggage at Newark Liberty International Airport
 March 19, 2009 
Pythias Brown, 47, of Maplewood, said in U.S. District Court in Trenton that in 2007 and 2008 he took video cameras and equipment, jewelry, laptop computers, GPS systems, cell phones, electronic games and more. All told, he took more than 100 items worth a total of between $200,000 and $400,000, authorities said.
Lara Uselding, a TSA spokeswoman, said the administration has no tolerance for theft. Any employee caught breaking the law will be fired, she said.
”The misdeeds of this individual in no way reflect the dedication and hard work of the hundreds of Security Officers who do an excellent job each day for the passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport,” Uselding said.
Since Brown’s arrest, the TSA has enacted several new policies, she said. Screeners are no longer allowed to bring their own bags into luggage areas. They must store all personal items in lockers outside the screening area. And and roving patrols of inspectors now randomly search search airport employees, Uselding said.

The reader is invited to join the fun by searching keywords: TSA, standards, arrests, to find their favorite TSA disclaimer for screener criminal conduct. And don’t forget to check out the comprehensive Master List of TSA Crimes and Abuses.

(Photo: Alan Cleaver/Flickr Creative Commons)

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