TSA, Homeland Security Move to Make Shoe Screening Policy Consistent for Travelers




TSA, Homeland Security Move to Make Shoe Screening Policy Consistent for Travelers

July 10, 2003, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has clarified its policy on screening shoes for its security work force in an effort to ensure consistency at all airports across the nation, Adm. James M. Loy, TSA Administrator, said today. TSA's increased focus on screening shoes in recent months reflects a necessary reaction to information gathered by federal intelligence agencies. But just as TSA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, achieved consistency last fall by clarifying procedures for the screening of drinks carried through security checkpoints, the agency is moving now to make sure its shoe policy is implemented consistently from coast to coast.

"Our screeners have always worked hard to make sure a 'shoe bomb' does not get on an aircraft," Adm. Loy said. "Now we must make sure our security process is consistent so air travelers know what to expect at every airport in the country." Screeners have been given explicit guidance on which shoes require X-ray screening.



Loy said screeners are being instructed to encourage passengers to remove their shoes and submit them for X-ray examination. Passengers will not be required to take off their shoes before going through metal detectors, but should understand that their chances of being selected for a more thorough, secondary screening will be lower if they do. In most airports, TSA has found checkpoint lines move faster if people remove their shoes for screening.

While many people do not know if their shoes contain metal, Loy repeated that particularly thick-soled shoes and those with metal shanks or steel toes join other apparel, such as heavy metal jewelry and belts, that require secondary screening. He stressed that it is an imperative that TSA be agile enough to react to information gathered by federal intelligence agencies. Such information can often guide the adjustments made to the screening process.

"TSA has always been alert to the danger of a 'shoe bomb' attack. It has been noted that al Qaeda has trained people to make and use shoe bombs, as highlighted by the Richard Reid incident in December 2001," Admiral Loy said. "These are threats that the flying public can only understand and appreciate when they receive clear advice - advice that most often is delivered through the actual airport experience."

TSA instituted mandatory shoe screening as an additional security measure when the threat level for the aviation sector went to Orange, or high on Thursday, August 10, 2006. Screening shoes by x-ray is an effective method of identifying any type of anomalies including explosives. Our highly trained transportation security officers can see if a shoe has been tampered with when they view it on the X-ray equipment. By requiring all passengers to remove shoes for x-ray screening we increase both security and efficiency at the checkpoint.

Today improvised explosive devices are the number one threat that we guard against. More than 31,000 of our TSOs have received rigorous training in IED detection and are required to complete four hours a month of recurrent training to detect all forms of explosives.  Training and technology are two layers in our systems approach to security in the airport. Other layers include: intelligence, behavior observation technique, random canine team searches, federal air marshals, federal flight deck officers and additional security measures both visible and invisible to the public. Each one of these layers alone is capable of stopping a terrorist attack. In combination their security value is multiplied, creating a much stronger, formidable system. 

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