Screeners Apparently DO Need Their Stinkin' Badges, Or Else
They Get Beat Up
Screeners with the Transportation
Security Administration are about to receive spiffy, more
"authoritative" outfits... and that isn't sitting well
with many sworn law-enforcement officers.
As ANN reported last year,
the new "police-style" outfits include royal-blue shirts, similar
to those worn by officers in many regional police departments. Most
egregiously to true police officers, however, the uniforms also
include 3-inch-by-2-inch, silver badges.
AAccording to USA Today, airport police officers -- real ones,
the ones who went through weeks of training and have the authority
to arrest people -- say bedecking 48,000 TSA screeners with
law-enforcement-style uniforms smacks of disrespect for those with
true police training.
"A lot of cops at airports are not real thrilled about it,"
Duane McGray of the Airport law-enforcement Agencies Network told
the paper. "It's another way of saying (to airport police), 'You're
Every major airport in the US is either patrolled by local
police, or has its own standing police force. Airport police worry
their authority will be undercut by TSA personnel who look like
cops... or, conversely, that passengers will approach screeners to
report crimes, instead of real police officers.
"There are going to be some growing pains on the part of the
(screeners) and police," said Paul Mason, police chief at Lambert
International Airport in St. Louis, MO.
TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said screeners need to convey an
image of authority to passengers, more so than the current
white-and-khaki uniforms put forth. In some extreme cases, she
said, disgruntled passengers have harassed and punched
"Some of our officers aren't respected," Howe said.
To be fair, several government agencies already equip personnel
with badges, even those who aren't in law-enforcement. For example,
Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Roxanne Smith said 250
EPA workers who oversee oil spill cleanups carry badges.
Screeners will receive their badges after a two-day training
program... which will include information related to badge-carrying
responsibilities, and how to defuse tense situations without
copping (sorry) a false sense of authority.
"We coupled the badges with the communications training to make
it clear to our officers that they're there to facilitate our
passengers," TSA Deputy Administrator Gale Rossides said, adding
it's highly unlikely screeners will ever be given true
In an attempt to differentiate badged TSA workers from true
police officers -- and to dissuade screeners from showing off to
their friends, or acting like cops off the job -- screeners are
barred from wearing the badges unless they're on duty. Real
law-enforcement personnel are often required to wear their badges
even when off-duty.
The new uniforms, complete with the badges, were rolled out at
Baltimore-Washington International Airport in April, and will
gradually make their way across the country over the coming
Boston screener A.J. Castilla says he's eager to get a badge.
"It'll go a long way to enhance the respect of this workforce," he