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DHS To Increase Security Screening Of Airport Employees

April 20, 2015 - The Department of Homeland Security will begin increasing security screening of airport and airline employees, beginning today as a result of a Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) reports which addressed gun smuggling by airport employees through U.S. airports.

Back in December, 23, Eugene Harvey, a baggage handler at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, was arrested on trafficking firearms and entering the secure areas of the airport in violation of security requirements.

The court complaint alleged Harvey repeatedly evaded airport security with bags of firearms, some of which were loaded. He then passed the guns off to an accomplice who transported them as carry-on luggage to New York, where they were illegally sold.


At least five occasions in 2014, Harvey, a baggage handler for Delta Air Lines, worked with another former Delta employee to smuggle firearms through airport-controlled security checkpoints for Delta employees, and thus he was not required to go through the screening performed for passengers by TSA. Once through the airport-controlled security checkpoints, the firearms were carried in carry-on baggage into the passenger cabins of aircraft. Each time, Harvey’s accomplice flew to New York with the guns, where they were illegally sold.

Since January 2014, Harvey’s accomplice had trafficked approximately 129 firearms between Georgia and New York. The last shipment on December 10, 2014, contained 18 firearms, 7 of which were loaded.

These new changes will mean that all airport and airline employees fingerprint-based criminal history records check” every two years, airport personnel traveling as passengers will undergo the same screening as the general public. Airports will need to reduce the number of ways to access secure areas and airport workers will be screened more often and in some cases randomly throughout the workday.



DHS Secretary Johnson said "Today, I am announcing that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will take additional steps to address the potential insider threat vulnerability at U.S. airports. These steps follow a 90-day Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) comprehensive review conducted at my request in January 2015. I also asked the ASAC to identify other trends to determine if additional risk-based security measures, resource reallocations, new investments or policy changes are necessary.

"I made this request after an incident in Atlanta that occurred in December 2014 which raised questions about potential vulnerabilities regarding the screening and vetting of all airport-based employees. Immediately following the incident in December 2014, TSA increased the random and unpredictable screening of aviation workers at various airport access points to mitigate potential security vulnerabilities.

"As a result of the recommendations contained in the ASAC report, I have directed the TSA to take the following immediate actions:

- Until TSA establishes a system for “real time recurrent” criminal history background checks for all aviation workers, require fingerprint-based Criminal History Records Checks every two years for all airport employee SIDA badge holders.

- Require airport and airline employees traveling as passengers to be screened by TSA prior to travel.

- Require airports to reduce the number of access points to secured areas to an operational minimum.

- Increase aviation employee screening, to include additional randomization screening throughout the workday.

- Re-emphasize and leverage the Department of Homeland Security “If You See Something, Say Something” initiative to improve situational awareness and encourage detection and reporting of threat activity".
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