BALTIMORE - The Maryland Transport Authority Police this week dismissed a report that new police-like uniforms worn by Transportation Security officers at Baltimore-Washington International Airport could confuse passengers and undermine the authority of law enforcement officials.
In a USA Today article last week, Duane McGray, executive director of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network, said, "A lot of cops at airports are not real thrilled about (the new TSA uniforms). It's another way of saying (to airport police), 'You're not important.'"
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TSA is in the early stages of equipping its 48,000 airport screeners with silver-colored badges and blue, police-style shirts to create a look that's "more professional and reflective of the critical nature of their work," TSA spokesperson Lauren Wolf said.
In April, screeners at Baltimore-Washington Airport became the first to trade in their white shirts with yellow TSA patches for the new uniforms. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport became the second to make the transition last week.
"There have been no problems whatsoever," said Cpl. Jonathan Green, public information officer for the Maryland Transport Authority Police. "I've spoken to a number of people, including the commander, and as far as we know, there has not been one instance of a TSA screener being confused for a police officer. No one has had anything negative to say."
Wolf said that even if a passenger were to confuse a screener for a police officer, screeners have long been trained for such situations. Before they are given their new uniforms, she added, they must take a two-day training course on engaging with passengers and lowering the stress level of their work environment so that police and behavior detection officers can better do their jobs.
"In a time of crisis, people tend to come up to the first person they see in uniform, no matter what the uniform," she said. "If there is an issue that requires law enforcement, members of our workforce will absolutely reach out to the proper authorities, just as they always have. We've always had a close working relationship