Subscribe to


Report reveals TSA employees aren't so happy

Friday, January 23, 2009

TSA worker
It may come as a shock, I know, that the guy who screens you at the airport may feel unappreciated. According to a report released yesterday, while TSA employees think their job is important, they also feel unheard, underpaid and unfairly treated. Um, I'm pretty those are the sentiments of a large part of the global workforce, but let's stay on subject.

The report found that only 22 percent of TSA employees think promotions are fair transparent and less than a quarter feel personally empowered in their jobs. But, the part, that security directors should be most concerned about is how employees view management.

Here are the down and dirty results:
* 22 percent said managers and leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce.
* 24 percent are satisfied with the policies and practices of TSA senior leadership and local managers.
* 26 percent said managers lead by example such as being fair, building trust and respect, using cooperative problem solving approaches.
* 26 percent said managers follow up on their suggestions to make services and work processes better.
* 34 percent have a high level of respect for TSA's senior leaders while 33 percent have a high level of respect for their local managers.

Any thoughts on how airport executives can improve the lives of the average TSA worker?

In the land of the bizarre

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm sure you've all heard this by now ... but CNN is reporting that a noose was found Wednesday on the desk of an African-American supervisor at the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The agency's director Mark Cooper, said "this type of behavior is 100 percent unacceptable." Well, I sure hope it isn't. In Louisiana it is actually a felony to display a noose in public and the act is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
The news is a bit disheartening especially in light of President Obama's inauguration this week. It's amazing that we as a society can come so far but also fall so short at the same time.

A historic day

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I was visiting with my friends last night and talked turned to yesterday's presidential inauguration. My friend, who I can honestly say probably has never  worried about security in her life, turned to me and said she was very concerned about Obama's safety yesterday. I think many U.S. citizens felt the same. Even though the event was a celebration of the future of this nation, there was also a dark undertone of what might, could or would happen. Thankfully, we can collectively breathe a sigh of relief. But challenges remain.

Here is an interesting article about the day's security plans from CNN.

A bit of news

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Next week, we'll new unveiling a new website with a new vertical search function (like Google but only for security) and our new SDNtvNews channel. It looks pretty good right now and I am excited to show off the finished product within the coming days.

Although we are only in the middle of January now, I just realized that TechSec is right around the corner. For those of you who are not familiar with the event, TechSec Solutions is a conference dedicated to the emergence of IP-based technology in the physical security industry. The educational program of the event is developed by myself and Sam Pfeifle, the editor of Security Systems News. We don't just serve as a media sponsor for this event — we work on it year round with our conference group right here at UP headquarters.

I encourage you to take a look at this year's educational program. I think its the best one we have put together in the five years we have been doing this. And if you don't like it, let me know.


Getting back in the game

Monday, January 12, 2009

I apologize that I've been out of pocket for the last week. I've found out that certain life catastrophes will keep you from blogging (hard to believe, but true.)

And today, my laptop crashed. I'm up and running on a spare now but my e-mail is still fried so I'm not able to look through all my news items for you.

I hope to be slightly back to normal (although by my calculations that might take 3.5 years) tomorrow. But in the meantime here's a sneak preview at Hollywood's newest take on security guards. Enjoy.

Aspen's New Year's far from a blast, fortunately

Monday, January 5, 2009

Now, I'm no fan of New Year's Eve celebrations, but I must say the best place I ever rang in the new year was at a ski resort. Good thing I wasn't in Aspen this year (not that it was an option) because nobody had a good time there. In case you haven't read this story, a 72-year-old man is accused of placing gift-wrapped bombs in downtown Aspen on New Year's Eve. The bombs were part of a bank robbery attempt and were made of gasoline and cell phone parts and came with notes warning of "mass death", according to news reports. The man killed himself shortly after placing the bombs.

The bomb threats led to police evacuating the entire downtown area that was packed with people gearing up for New Year's celebrations. That's 16 blocks and thousands of people. I'm in the process of getting a hold of the Aspen police who I'm sure are being bombarded with news calls, but I'm curious how the evacuation process went. Informing and moving that many people in a short amount of time isn't an easy task, I'm sure. Police spend a lot of time planning for such events, but to actually conduct one is a totally different story. I'll keep you updated on whether or not I can get in contact with anyone, but until then, Happy New Year.


Traveling toward redemption?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Here it is. My first post of 2009 and also my first post since I've been back to work after a somewhat lengthy holiday vacation that I spent most of sick with some kind of bird flu (or at least that is what I have been calling it).

While on the couch battling this wretched illness, I saw more TV promos for this Homeland Security USA reality show than I care to admit.

If you haven't seen it, here it is:

It's interesting to see the steps DHS has recently taken to improve its image. In addition to this reality show, TSA is running advertisements on select radio stations. WBZ 1030 is running them pretty regularly over in this neck of the woods. The sound bites provide tips on making your way through security lines easily and encourages listeners to visit TSA's web site to find more travel tips.

On paper, both these programs sound good. The TV program will help showcase the heroes that work to protect U.S. citizens on a daily basis, while the radio advertisements are attempting to get the message across that safety is TSA's priority. But I'm not sold.

Do you think these public relations initiatives are a wise investment of time and money on DHS' part? I know the department has been beat up by the general population since its inception but I don't think this is the wisest way to change public perception. The department's job is to keep the country and its people safe from a variety of risks; it is my opinion that it should focus on that task rather than TV and radio promotions.

But I'm just the editor of a trade publication.

TSA brings holiday cheer

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm always so grateful that I don't have to fly anywhere for the holidays. I love my family, of course, but there are very few reasons I would brave the airport crowds and certain weather delays this time of year. The news networks always have some sort of horror story about people trapped in the airport trying desperately to get home for the holidays and, frankly, I just want no part of that. So, in the spirit of the holiday season, I thought I would pass along a positive story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about airport travel and how hard the TSA works to make passenger travel smooth. Here's a little something to cheer up those of you working hard on this Monday morning:

"In my opinion, they're (TSA) on the ball," said one passenger. "Fastest security I've ever been through. It was a long line, but it just flew."

The TSA's No. 2 person at Sea-Tac, Deputy Federal Security Director Deborah Wojnicz, said that despite the bad weather, the normal complement of security screeners was maintained. The TSA brought in two mobile teams of screeners when the forecast showed the weather facing Sea-Tac.

TSA official Dennis Hayne led a team of 24 screeners from Phoenix. "We got an alert on Dec 18 at 10:30 p.m." Everyone was on a plane to Sea-Tac at 7:30 the next morning, he said. They'll be spending Christmas away from home.

I didn't realize the TSA had "mobile units" who are dispatched to airports suffering from staff shortages (or passenger influxes), but it definitely makes sense. So, there you go. I feel good having done my part to spread some holiday cheer. Enjoy it while you can.

And so it goes ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I just wanted to wish everyone happy holidays. Hope you and your families enjoy the best of the season.

I'm out next week enjoying the last few days of the year so I'll talk to you all in the new year. And thanks for a great 2008.


More 'security theater'

Monday, December 22, 2008

For those of you who missed the 60 Minutes segment on airport security because you were shoveling your driveway for the fourth time, here it is:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Too bad they didn't mention that we are in the middle of one of the safest flying periods in U.S. history.

I agree that not all the programs TSA has implemented have worked, but I do think they are doing some things right — the behavior screening, for example, is an effective program. All around, the agency gets a really bad rap and so do the screeners (I wouldn't want that job). It may be 'security theater' but if it helps keep me safe, I'm happy to play a role.