Friday, February 18, 2011

Baggage Thefts at Airports, TSA, and Airline Staff

There is another story in the news about TSA workers – who are supposed to protect us – stealing around $160,000 from baggage at New York airports going back to 2004.
Every few weeks there seems to be a story about items being stolen from checked baggage or the luggage itself being stolen. These instances are not happening just in big cities, but all over the country. Then we have regular stories about baggage handlers and other airport workers using their positions to bypass security and get drugs, weapons, or other contraband onto flights.
I do not in any way intend to imply that the majority of either TSA workers or airline personnel are breaking the rules/laws – I know that the majority of these people are honest and hard-working people. What I do not understand is why in a world of surveillance cameras, audio monitoring, and background checks have we failed to at least install cameras in some of these baggage handling areas. Even in the most secure facilities in the world – with employees that are vetted much more thoroughly than baggage handlers – cameras are everywhere. Not only do the cameras serve to protect from external threats (unauthorized access, violence, thefts, etc.) but they also protect against internal threats (employees violating security policies, internal theft, etc).
Certainly some of the baggage handling areas have security cameras, and I know very well that it would be impossible to cover the entire behind-the-scenes area of the airport, I also know that no system is foolproof. But in time where security should be a priority, if we cannot secure baggage, and facilities such as airports from internal threats how can we secure these areas from outside threats?
In this case these employees were removing items from baggage. What happens next time when someone wants to add something to baggage – like explosives?

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