New screening program begins test at Logan

The Transportation Security Administration today started physically screening 100 percent of workers and vehicles entering the airfield at Boston's Logan International Airport under a 90-day pilot program funded by Congress.

Previously, employees could access the airfield by showing their airport identification badge, which is issued after passing a criminal background check. Now they also need to get out of their vehicles and spread their arms as a TSA agent uses a metal-detector wand to check for guns or other banned items.

"If we're going to scrutinize our customers, it's only sensible that we screen our employees," said Edward Freni, Logan's director of aviation.

The main reason this "sensible" idea has yet to be fully implemented is "a matter of costs," said George Naccara, the TSA's federal security director overseeing Logan. The pilot program puts 43 extra TSA screeners at five airfield checkpoints.

Naccara estimated physically screening 100 percent of employees entering the airfield and the airport terminals would require 1,300 more TSA agents, but didn’t know how much that would cost. Currently 900 TSA agents work at Logan.

The pilot program is supposed to determine how much 100 percent screening costs and how it impacts airport operations. During a similar 100 percent employee screening pilot program conducted last year inside Logan’s airport terminals, the extra procedures had employees running 15 to 30 minutes late for work, said airport spokesman Matt Brelis.

At Logan airfield’s North Security Gate this morning, equipment operator Jon Clancy jumped out of his triaxle truck and let a TSA agent make sure no contraband was hidden in his orange construction vest.

“It’s a little bit of a hassle,” said Clancy, who works for Bay State Piping and is installing an electrical conduit in an airfield building. However, he added, tightening security is generally a good idea.

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