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article imageBags and behavior being screened by TSA at U.S. airports

By Kay Mathews     Nov 10, 2009 in Travel
If you are acting suspiciously at a U.S. airport, it is likely that someone is watching you. TSA behavior-detection officers are on the job at 161 U.S. airports. In 2008 alone, 813 arrests were made based upon detection officers identifying suspects.
"Behavior-detection officers" are stationed at 161 U.S. airports, according to the Washington Post.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not only screening carry-on bags, but also travelers' conduct in an effort to "identify potentially dangerous individuals."
TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz told the Washington Post that the TSA does "not focus on nationality, race, ethnicity or gender. We're not looking for a type of person, but at behaviors."
The program started in Boston in 2003, and in 2008 detection officers "nationwide required 98,805 passengers to undergo additional screenings. Police questioned 9,854 of them and arrested 813" reports the Washington Post. Detection officers do not have arrest powers but they can require that suspicious passengers be given a second security screening and/or refer those individuals to police.
Through the work of detection officers, passengers have been arrested on drug charges, including drug trafficking, and possessing fraudulent documents among other charges.
The Washington Post reports that TSA detection officers work in teams of two and blend in with those performing screening duties making them hard to spot.
Detection officers, according to the Washington Post, "undergo four days of behavior training, which includes training to spot suicide terrorists, and then receive 24 hours of on-the-job preparation."
Detection officers hand-off the observation of suspicious passengers to federal air marshals who are on international and domestic flights. The Federal Air Marshal Service is also part of the TSA.
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