Victor Anderes is Executive Vice President of Global Elite Group.
Above my desk hangs a picture bearing the words “Never Forget 09.11.2001.” It is a fairly common picture which one often sees in the offices of security professionals, at law enforcement facilities and military barracks, on car bumper stickers and even in some civilian homes. “Never Forget” was the sentiment expressed by many after the horrific terror attacks on the US on 11th September 2001.
Ten years ago, in July 2004, the 9/11 Commission Report was published and served as the official account of the events leading up to the attacks. The report cited system weaknesses in intelligence, but also failings across the aviation security system.
A great deal of criticism was directed at the security screening standards at airports in the US, with particular regard to the fact that security screeners were underpaid and unmotivated. Turnover was extremely high as better paying jobs with less responsibility in closer proximity to screeners’ homes were available. There was also the view that security was an expense to be minimised wherever possible. The lowest bids won the screening contracts.
Recommended changes were implemented vis-à-vis the passenger screening regime in the US and the standards are now much better. Minimum standards relative to pay, benefits, training and other elements are stipulated regardless of whether the screening is performed by the Transportation Security Administration itself or by private companies (under the Screening Partnership Program). In short, ‘lowest bid’ is no longer the criteria used to award screening contracts. And, of course structurally, screening is now accomplished under the direct oversight of the Transportation Security Administration.
Problem solved? Not so fast…and this is where we indeed have FORGOTTEN!
Passenger screeners are only a small facet of the security force engaged in protecting the entire aviation system. Think cargo screeners, cargo warehouse guards, catering searchers, aircraft guards, aircraft searchers, baggage guards, passenger profilers, airport perimeter guards, terminal access door guards, etc. No minimum standards have been established for this significant element of the aviation security system, and the management of these security professionals is done through private security companies typically through a tender process.
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