Airport security workers fear assaults by angry travelers

* By Jim Kouri, Law Enforcement Examiner

Transportation Security Officers -- through their collective-bargaining association -- stated Monday that while most passengers are understanding of the new Transportation Security Administration security procedures and recognize that TSOs are not the ones who created those procedures, there have been a few instances where passengers have become angry, belligerent and even physical with TSOs.

In Indianapolis, for example, a TSO was punched by a passenger who didn't like the new screening process, according to a report from the TSO's union, the American Federation of Government Employees.

"AFGE agrees that strong security measures need to be in place and evolve as threats come anew, but the general public needs to know what the security procedures are and what their rights are as citizens," AFGE National President John Gage added.

"TSA must do a better job explaining these measures to the flying public. This absence of information has resulted in a backlash against the character and professionalism of TSOs based on a few widely reported but largely ill-founded claims repeated over and over again by the media," said Gage.

AFGE further called on TSA officials to provide an educational pamphlet to each passenger on the new procedures and what the passenger rights are.

"Like all Americans, TSOs deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. These men and women are the first line of defense against those who seek to harm this country," Gage said.

"It is unacceptable for any passenger to verbally or physically assault any security officers, and TSA must act now—before the Thanksgiving rush— to ensure that TSOs are not being left to fend for themselves," he added.

"It's a shame that the people who should receive the complaints of the American people are far from their reach. It's the soldiers, cops and security officers who bear the brunt of the people's anger over ill-conceived public policy," said former police detective Sidney Franes, now owner of a private security firm.

AFGE is the only union to represent Transportation Security Officers since the creation of the TSA, and currently has more than 12,000 dues-paying members in 38 AFGE TSA Locals across the country.

AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including tens of thousands of DHS employees in Border Patrol, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FEMA, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Federal Protective Service, Office of Immigration Statistics and TSA.

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