TSA takes a lot of heat for doing their jobs www.privateofficer.com
Washington DC Jan 8 2012 The Transportation Security Administration has taken heat from air travelers over its pat-down searches and scanning machines.
The TSA, though, says the security measures helped nab more than 1,200 people packing heat at airports across the country last year.
“Most passengers simply stated they forgot they had a gun in their bag,” said TSA social media analyst and blogger Bob Burns.
Aside from guns, screeners also found concealed animals, land mines, grenades and at least one sword hidden in a cane that surprised even its owner, the agency said.
Created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the TSA recently published online a Top 10 list of “good catches” at airport security lines.
At Pittsburgh International Airport, the 270 TSA screeners last year confiscated seven loaded firearms at checkpoints, said agency spokeswoman Ann Davis. They also found 17 undeclared guns — eight of them loaded — in checked bags.
Passengers are allowed to pack unloaded firearms in checked bags as long as they notify their airline beforehand and place them in a secure, locked box, Davis said. The agency fined the gun-toting passengers and referred the incidents to Allegheny County Police, which did not provide further information.
Davis said TSA collected 2,300 pounds of prohibited items at Pittsburgh checkpoints last year, up from the 1,850 pounds collected in 2010 but down from 2,750 pounds in 2009 and 2,500 pounds in 2008.
“Nothing completely weird or outrageous was discovered at (Pittsburgh’s) checkpoints, but there were some not-so-ordinary items,” Davis said.
Screeners confiscated wrenches, wire cutters, pocketknives, corkscrews, screwdrivers and pairs of scissors, along with several bricks, complete sets of kitchen cutlery and at least one marble rolling pin, Davis said.
Aside from weapons or other illegal items, the TSA gives all surrendered items to the state Department of General Services’ Surplus Property Division.
General Services spokesman Troy Thompson said the agency has made $700,000 from selling items from Pittsburgh and other airports in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and New York since 2004. People can sift through items at a warehouse in Harrisburg; soon they’ll be able to buy them online at http://www.govdeals.com.
Stranger items were nabbed at airports elsewhere, according to the Top 10 list that Burns compiled for TSA.
Miami International Airport screeners found seven snakes and three turtles stowed away in pantyhose on a man going through security in August. Authorities charged him with a federal offense of harboring reptiles in an unnatural habitat. Also that month, a woman was charged with trying to smuggle endangered species out of the United States because Los Angeles International Airport screeners found two birds wrapped in socks taped to her leg and chest.
Somehow those bizarre incidents ranked just 10th on Burns’ list.
At No. 9, authorities shut down the Omaha airport for several hours in August because screeners suspected that a graduate student’s science project might be a bomb. Other seized items on the Top 10 list included inert land mines (No. 7), a stun gun disguised as a cell phone (No. 6) and small chunks of C4 explosives (No. 1).