Police Officers Are Upset That TSA Screeners Will Be Wearing Bogus Badges As They Harass And Intimidate Passengers

Bad Cop News
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC - Screeners at the nation’s airport checkpoints are going to start wearing police-style badges - but real officers aren’t too happy about it.

Some sworn officers fear airline passengers will mistake screeners for law-enforcement officials with arrest powers.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is starting to equip its 48,000 screeners with 3-inch-by-2-inch, silver-colored, copper and zinc badges that will be worn on new royal-blue police-style shirts.

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The attire aims to convey an image of authority to passengers, who have harassed, pushed and in a few instances punched screeners. “Some of our officers aren’t respected,” TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said.

Actual airport police, who carry guns and have arrest powers, worry that their own authority will be undercut by screeners who look like police. Every major airport has its own police department or is patrolled by local police.

“A lot of cops at airports are not real thrilled about it,” said Duane McGray of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network, an airport police association. “It’s another way of saying (to airport police), ‘You’re not important.’ ”

Network president Paul Mason, chief of the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport police, worries that passengers will mistake badge-wearing screeners for police and expect them to handle crimes. “There are going to be some growing pains on the part of the (screeners) and police,” he said.

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