Airports are one area that truly bring people together. The power of communal hatred of every aspect of those places is incredible. The food is ludicrously expensive, there’s too many people and the security lines are too long.
As of April 6, the people’s voice is finally being heard. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Director Lance Lyttle said that in order to shorten lines at the airport, he’s considering replacing the Transportation Security Administration with a private security agency.
The TSA is a division of the Department of Homeland Security, which means it’s a government agency that comes with all of the bureaucratic backlog and delays.
But being a government agency also means uniformity, a uniformity that can save lives.
To truly understand why the United States needs the TSA, it’s necessary to go all the way back to its conception.
November 19, 2001. Sixty nine days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, attacks that were made possible by an uninformed foreign policy and lax airport security, President George Bush signed into action the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, creating the TSA in an effort to secure the nation’s skies.
Since commercial airports began screening passengers and their baggage in December 2002, travelers have been complaining that the additional security measures bog down the efficiency of the airport.
A study conducted in 2007 by Cornell Professors Garrick Blalock, Vrinda Kadiyali and Daniel Simon found that baggage screening alone lost the airline industry about $1.1 billion. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell’s office attributed 1,000 missed flights last March to long wait times in security lines at Sea-Tac, according to washingtontimes.com.
There’s a reason why the TSA has been able to stick around for so long, even if it’s hemorrhaging money. It saves lives.
Yes, the bored looking TSA officer who asks passengers to step into the futuristic spiny chamber with their arms up, “no, a little higher please,” might seem incapable of undermining a terrorist plot, but there’s more to them than meets the eye.
According to the official TSA blog, one in every 20 applicants makes it to becoming a TSA officer. This means that they’ve completed the necessary 120 hours or more of classroom and on the job learning, which only qualifies them for checking people or bags. To check both, they have to complete another round of training and tests. Even after training, officers are tested seven times a day with fake threats – and have to become recertified every year.
A private agency would have to meet the requirements listed in the ATSA, but beyond that, it’s their standards the passengers’ lives depend on.
Replacing the TSA, a thoroughly regulated and time tested federal agency, with a private firm could be disastrous for Sea-Tac. Ignoring the safety of its passengers and other staff just to shorten lines and stay in the black isn’t ethical. The American public needs a safe, reliable method of long distance transportation, and for years the TSA has done their best to provide one.
Speeding up might seem appealing now, but slow and steady doesn’t get blown up.
From stripping off half of what an individual is wearing to downright failing at their duty, the Transportation Security Administration has a history filled with criticism.
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is now considering the transition to a private security firm from the TSA due to complaints about long lines, but that’s not the only problem that resides within the government agency.
The main complaint from both the general population and governmental officials is the TSA’s failure to do their actual job: protect travelers from security threats. ABC News conducted a study that showed Homeland Security agents were able to take fake weapons and explosives past security 67 out of 70 times. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse said in an opinion piece for USA Today that this 96 percent critical failure wasn’t the only source of trouble; there are also gaps in regulation. One issue that’s been brought is the lack of security for airport employees. Without adequate security measures, this leaves a large group of people free to do as they please.
At a federal level, the TSA is open to regulate itself. No other government body has the power of both a regulatory agency and security agency, and this needs to change at a fundamental level. If Sea-Tac takes the lead and limits TSA to regulate the companies that would take over, it would check the processes that a private security firm would go through. Other problems stem from the federal level as well. These include a high turnover rate, which leaves staff members inexperienced and not evaluated, as drills only occur once every year or so, according to Robert Evans on Cracked.com.
With these problems come the inconvenience of the security screening process. The sluggish lines, awkward interactions with security officers and the hate-hate relationship with body scanners, the cost to the individual comes at too high a price to pay with no real reward.
An alternative for the TSA, private agencies, solve the majority of these problems. They’d still be regulated by the government, but could be held to a higher standard than Sea-Tac. Companies turnover rates wouldn’t be as high and employees and screeners would be held more accountable than they are now. A transition to the private sector is a transition to a more efficient, less worrisome future of air travel.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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