Who And What Is the TSA

Businessman standing in hotel lobby with suitcase and using his mobile phone. Male business traveler in hotel hallway with smartphone and luggage.

It all began on September 11 when terrorists took control of three different planes and crashed them into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Hijackers were able to take control of the planes because they carried box cutters, knives, and pepper spray onboard. Unfortunately, these weapons were not detected when the passengers went through airport security. This was all a mishap that cost America thousands of lives.

Immediately after the attack of 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was established to ensure the safety of future flights. The main purpose of the TSA is to fight terrorism and to do everything possible to prevent another event like 9/11 from ever happening again. Not only airports are targeted for terror attacks, but railroad systems, seaports, and mass transit systems are as well.

TSA’s mission is to protect the nation’s transportation systems by ensuring the freedom of movement for people and commerce. It is the main agency controlling security at airports and during flights in addition to making seaports safe for shipping and importing cargo. Those traveling on busses and commuter trains are also protected as the TSA works to stop mass transit bombings like those that happened in Madrid and London.

At the same time the TSA interfaces with the US Customs and Board Protection, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US Coast Guard, and the FBI to handle emergencies and stop terrorist attacks. Also, foreign airports are advised of problems in their security operations. So for those of you who have an urge to carry explosives on any form of public transportation, watch out, accomplishing your act is only getting tougher.

As time passes, the TSA strives to find better ways to detect explosives and other dangers to passengers and cargo. Citizens that have an interest in science and invention can contribute greatly to the TSA. One day this organization hopes to obtain a machine that will get travelers through the screening process faster and with less hassle. So if you think you have a great contraption to detect bombs, let the TSA know.

For anyone who wants to help fight terrorism and promote safety, the TSA may have a job for you. They are looking for innovative people to create methods or mechanical devices used to further detect unsafe items. All jobs are challenging and demanding, some requiring college degrees while others, calling for highly skilled high school graduates. A great number of their jobs involve law, administration, and also teaching. Others entail training dogs to sniff out explosives, to work with law enforcement agencies and to act as canine coordinators.

Other than preventing terrorism, the TSA helps Americans during emergencies caused by natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina. The TSA sent 623 transportation security officers and federal air marshals from all over the US into New Orleans to rescue 22,000 evacuees. It now is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and works with several other governmental agencies to prevent and respond to catastrophes.

In early 2002, Congress allowed the TSA one year to hire, train, and place 60,000 employees to screen passengers and their luggage. The new employees had to complete 40 hours of training including classroom and computer based study. After that each screener underwent 60 hours of on the job training with a more experienced supervisor. Before the TSA took over airport security, screeners only required 12 hours of training. Their job title was changed from “screener” to Transportation Security Officer (TSO).