Last updated: 11:46 AM ET, Wed April 22 2015

TSA To Screen All Airport, Airline Workers Before Flights

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | April 22, 2015

TSA To Screen All Airport, Airline Workers Before Flights

The Transportation Security Administration will be implementing new rules that tighten security for airport and airline workers, but they don’t go as far as some had hoped.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the changes late Monday. Changes include:

• Until TSA establishes a system for “real time recurrent” criminal history background checks for all aviation workers, it will require fingerprint-based Criminal History Records Checks every two years for all airport employee SIDA badge holders.

• Airport and airline employees traveling as passengers must be screened by TSA prior to travel.

• Airports must reduce the number of access points to secured areas to an operational minimum.

• There will be increased aviation employee screening, to include additional randomization screening throughout the workday.

• DHS will re-emphasize and leverage the “If You See Something, Say Something” initiative to improve situational awareness and encourage detection and reporting of threat activity.

The new rules came in response to a gun-smuggling ring out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and New York’s JFK International Airport late last year.

However, the changes do not address required daily screenings of all airport and airline workers, something U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called for in January.

"To think that all airline employees are not screened each day is mind boggling," Schumer told reporters in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, where he was joined by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson. “In this day and age of terrorism, rampant drug dealing and gun smuggling, we just can’t be too careful.”

Schumer said he will ask the TSA to make it mandatory that baggage workers, cleaning crew and anybody who works for an airport or the airlines – not just pilots and flight crews, who are currently screened – to be screened every day when they arrive for work.

Johnson asked the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) to file a report based on the gun-smuggling ring. Schumer’s concerns about daily screening seem to be addressed by the call for random screenings throughout the workday.

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