The Travel Detective

Travel Detective Actually Approves Of TSA’s New Security Policy

Locations in this article:  Amsterdam, Netherlands Chicago, IL Miami, FL

Want a controversial new management policy? How about teaching your employees to think and ask pointed questions?

The TSA is doing just that and for once the Travel Detective agrees with them. Read his blog to find out why.

The Transportation Security Administration is turning things around a little bit in Boston. They have started something new. They call it controversial, which is a word they use for everything. In fact, the TSA calls the word “screening” controversial. But, I think their new policy isn’t controversial at all. It’s actually common sense this time.

Starting in Boston they are going to be screening people based on behavior. They are going to focus their attention on suspicious behavior, and not the answers to stupid questions or X-ray machines.

The new program is based partly on the Israeli model that relies on having a simple conversation. 
This goes back even further to interview techniques that have been used for years by homicide detectives. For example, if I think you’ve killed somebody I’m not going to say, “Did you kill them?” because you will say “no” and the conversation ends. I will ask a question that can’t be answered by yes or no. I’ll ask, “What did you do with the gun?” If you answer that question, we have something to talk about.

Learn more: Analyzing Post-9/11 Travel Safety & Security: Airports, Trains, International Hotels & Beyond

Until now I could walk into an airport in Florida in August wearing seven trench coats, five mufflers, goulashes, and six sweaters. And as long as I passed through the metal detector, nobody would be required to ask me a question.

How stupid is that?

TSA's Pro-Vision X-ray machineThink about the underwear bomber in December 2009 who showed up at the airport in Amsterdam with a T-shirt, no bags, and no luggage in the middle of the winter.

Now, they are going to do something they should have done a long time ago.  Now, they are training more TSA officers to exercise their ability to t-h-i-n-k. They are training them to observe and listen. They are training them to ask more than yes or no questions.

The TSA should get credit for at least trying this pilot program.

They call it a pilot program because they haven’t dealt with a certain reality: volume.

The Israelis have been able to do this successfully for years because they only have one flight a day out of New York and one flight a day out of Chicago. There are maybe 350 passengers, so they have enough staff to have a conversation.

When you’re dealing with 300,000 passengers a day out of Miami, where is the staff to do that? And how do you manage the lines? And who’s bringing the tea and cookies? Because you’re going to be chatting for a while.

The bottom line is that the TSA should at least be commended for trying. You know what they’re going to find? It works. Half the time when terrorists when were interrogated after an incident, they couldn’t answer where they were going or what they were going to do there. That should tell you something. If you don’t know where you’re going, why are you at the airport?

By Peter Greenberg for

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