With all of the security screenings a passenger undergoes during airline travel, one might be surprised that airport employees are not subject to the same security checks. In fact, only two airports in the United States have a full screening process for their employees, and many airports do not require personnel to go through metal detectors prior to work. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) claims that increasing security measures on other levels is a better solution to airport safety, as comprehensive physical screenings of airport employees on a national level do not necessarily diminish security risks.
Though screening every airport employee prior to a scheduled shift may seem like a fool-proof way of keeping contraband material from entering secure zones, TSA authorities claim that conducting a full physical screening on every employee is not a financial reality. Furthermore, security screenings cannot indicate an individual’s intention to cause harm, even if they can catch those who might be carrying dangerous materials. The TSA has proposed some multi-layered measures to decrease the risk of threats from airport personnel:
- All aviation employees must undergo recurring background checks (every two years).
- Airport employees will go through a full security screening when traveling as passengers.
- Airports will have fewer access points to secure areas.
- Airport employees should be prepared for increased random screenings.
- Airport security will target baggage and cargo areas for routine checks.
- The TSA will increase the range of databases they search for employee criminal background checks.
The proposed nationwide changes to airport security arose as a result of an incident in Atlanta in December 2014 where an airport worker assisted a passenger in smuggling guns into a secure area. The occurence indicates a need for more accountability of airport personnel, and the TSA will continue to investigate methods of increasing security for these individuals. The TSA says an employee reward system for reporting security risks and heavier surveillance of social media may enhance safety measures on a domestic scale.
The conclusion from responsible authoritative parties seems to be that airport security incidents are part of an evolving issue, not a lack of diligence of existing security protocol. As methods by which others violate security statutes change, the method by which security issues are prevented must change as well.