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Entries in John Pistole (4)

Sunday
Oct072012

Cops Nab Alleged TSA Thief, Hundreds Already Fired

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A TSA employee working in a Los Angeles airport could become the 382nd worker fired from the security agency for allegedly stealing from travelers, a years-long problem highlighted in a recent ABC News investigation.

Los Angeles police released a statement late Friday saying a passenger came to the authorities after he said money had been taken out of his wallet while he was going through airport security at Los Angeles International Airport. After a brief investigation, police arrested 47-year-old TSA employee Clyde Reese for the alleged theft.

As of Friday, the TSA said Reese would be removed from screening duties and could be fired should wrongdoing be proven, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. Reese was reportedly booked in Los Angeles on a misdemeanor theft charge.

The alleged theft occurred just a day after Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) called on the TSA to strengthen its internal anti-theft policies in response to the ABC News investigation.

As part of the investigation, ABC News tracked an iPad that was purposefully left behind at an airport security checkpoint to the home of a TSA agent who was later fired for the alleged theft. That officer was the 381st TSA employee fired for alleged theft since the agency's founding a decade ago, the TSA said.

Another former TSA employee, Pythias Brown, served three years in prison for theft and said he stole approximately $800,000 worth of cash and merchandise from travelers before he was caught.

"It was very commonplace, very," Brown told ABC News. "It was very convenient to steal… [TSA agents] didn't think it was okay, but they did it and said, 'I don't care. They ain't paying me. They're treating me wrong.' But when people started seeing they could profit off of it, then it became massive."

In response to ABC News' original report, the TSA provided a statement that said it has a "zero tolerance" policy towards theft and that the number of officers fired "represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed" by the TSA.

Still, Schumer wrote a letter to TSA head John Pistole urging the agency to perform its own random sting operations and to randomly screen employees at the end of the work day.

"Most TSA agents are very good, hard-working and conscientious, but there are a few bad apples that spoil the bunch," Schumer told ABC News. "We have to find them."

The agency has conducted internal sting operations in the past after allegations of wrongdoing and has caught some officers red-handed, according to court documents. But the stings are only done in response to specific reported problems.

"The TSA has a huge job, but when it comes to the security and safety of people's valuables, which they entrust to the TSA when they put them on the conveyor belt and go through the inspection, [TSA officials] have to be very, very careful and very, very vigilant," Schumer said. "Thus far they haven't done enough and could be doing more."

In response to Schumer's letter, the TSA told ABC News in a statement that "ensuring the safety of travelers through a professional workforce is of the highest priority for the TSA."

"TSA takes allegations of misconduct seriously and will take appropriate corrective action as warranted," the statement said.

Representatives for the TSA did not immediately return after hours requests for comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb082012

TSA to Expand Expedited Passenger Screening Program

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday morning the expansion of the airline passenger pre-screening program that allows passengers who are enrolled to have expedited screenings.

Those associated with "Pre-Check" face fewer hassles; they no longer have to remove their shoes or belts, they can wear light jackets, and they can keep their computers in their bags and their three-ounce liquids and gels in their carry-ons.
 
“By the end of March, Pre-Check will be operating here at Reagan National, and also we are expanding it to New York's JFK Airport, Salt Lake City International and Chicago O'Hare.  By the end of calendar year 2012, we will have Pre-Check up and running at 28 of the nation's busiest airports. Expanding TSA Pre-Check is about more than just speeding up travel. It's part of a fundamental shift in how we approach aviation security,” said Napolitano at a news conference at Reagan National Airport Wednesday morning.


[CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 28 AIRPORTS GETTING PRE-CHECK LATER THIS YEAR]


“Immediately after the attacks of 9/11, we simply did not have the information and analytic capability to identify travelers who posed the greatest potential risk and so we had to take a one-size-fits-all approach,” she said.  “Our experience over the past several years has made us smarter about the evolving threats we face and how best to deal with them.”
 
Pistole said that random screening checks would still be employed by TSA officers despite an individual's enrollment in Pre-Check, but he described how the program would normally work.

“The key is that we have done pre-screening before somebody ever gets to the checkpoint.  So when the person arrives, they will have in their -- on their boarding pass, embedded in the bar code, the fact that they are part of the TSA Pre-Check program.  And so there will be a dedicated lane for those individuals. Thus far in the seven airports where it's currently operating, we've had over 310,000 flyers go through this program.” Pistole said.
 
The program is currently being used with frequent flyers with American Airlines at airports in Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and with Delta at airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis.  US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines will begin to have their frequent flyers enroll in the program later this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep092011

9/11, Remembrance and Renewal: Changes in Airport Security

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the nation marks 10 years since the attacks of Sept. 11, it may be hard to remember, but there was a time before we had to take our belts and shoes off while going through security at airports.

Today, the screenings have become more invasive; even children have been subjected to a thorough pat down.  And Transportation Security Administration Chief John Pistole has come under fire as a result.

"That makes me think you're clueless.  That you think she's gonna attack our country," said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., criticizing Pistole after a 6-year-old girl was patted down by an airport security officer in April.

Pistole has since promised new rules to minimize pat downs for kids, but warns of the risk: "We don't see children as terrorists, but we know that parents and others use children to do bad things."

After incidents involving the underwear bomber and shoe bomber, the TSA has had to evolve to cope with new kinds of threats.  Pistole has stepped up security checks on trains, mass transit and other areas.

He says his agency screens 1.8 million people every day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

TSA Pat Down Went Too Far, Agency Chief Says

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Monday that at least one airport passenger screening went too far when an officer reached inside a traveler's underwear, and the agency is open to rethinking its current protocols.

An ABC News employee said she was subject to a "demeaning" search at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning. "The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," she said.  "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist.  It was embarrassing.  It was demeaning.  It was inappropriate."

That search was against protocols and "never" should have happened, TSA Administrator John Pistole told ABC News Monday.  "There should never be a situation where that happens," Pistole said.  "The security officers are there to protect the traveling public.  There are specific standard operating protocols which they are to follow."

Pistole, reponding to complaints from passengers, has maintained that the TSA will not change its pat down procedures.  But on Monday he said the agency is "open" to changing security procedures.

"The bottom line is, we are always adapting and adjusting prior protocols in view of the intelligence and in view of the latest information we have on how the terrorists are trying to kill our people on planes," Pistole said.  "If that means we need to adjust the procedures, then of course we're open to that."

In recent days, several passengers have come forward to tell shocking stories about their experiences with TSA officers.

Thomas Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor, said he was humiliated after a pat down broke his urostomy bag, leaving the 61-year-old covered in his own urine.  Sawyer said he warned the TSA officials twice the pat down could break the seal.  And in another incident, Cathy Bossi, a long-time flight attendant and breast cancer survivor said the TSA made her take off her prosthetic breast.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio