TSA confiscated nearly 11 guns a day at airports in 2017

Airport security screeners found nearly 4,000 guns in passengers’ carry-on bags last year, an average of nearly 11 guns a day.

The total marked a 16% increase from 2016, according the Transportation Security Administration’s Year in Review Report. The majority of those guns — 84% — were loaded at the time.

The amount of firearms discovered at airport checkpoints has consistently climbed in the last decade, the total more than quadrupling since 2007, according to the report.

Guns were discovered at 239 airports nationwide, with Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport taking the top spot for most firearms seized. A total of 245 guns were recovered at the Georgia airport, 222 of them loaded.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston round out the top three, with 211 and 142 guns seized at each location, respectively.

Federal law allows for passengers to transport unloaded guns in a locked, hard-sided container. It must be declared, and the gun cannot be packed in a carry-on.

In addition to firearms, the TSA in 2017 recovered “thousands upon thousands” of sharp items in carry-on bags as well as other hazardous items — including live grenades and large quantities of gun powder.

While properly packed ammunition is allowed in checked bags, gun powder is prohibited altogether.

Officers also recovered scores of “inert items,” including a replica suicide vest, a realistic looking land mine and dozens of fake grenades and explosive devices.

“When being viewed on the X-ray monitor, we don’t know if these are real or inert until TSA explosive experts are called to the scene,” the TSA said in a release. “Inert grenades can lead to closed terminals and checkpoints, which can often result in costly canceled or delayed flights.”

TSA agents urged travelers to double-check their belongings as many commuters claim they’ve only brought along the prohibited items by mistake.

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24 people arrested at Port Canaveral on drug charges before EDM cruise

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. Jan 9 2018 - A cruise set sail from at Port Canaveral this weekend but with two dozen fewer people.

Two dozen people were arrested on drug possession charges during security checks before boarding the ship for the Holy Ship! 2018 event.

Holy Ship denied a comment but on its website states that there is a zero-tolerance policy:

“Holy Ship! has a strict zero tolerance policy. You will be embarking Holy Ship! in Port Canaveral and passing through security run by Customs and Border Protection, a division of Homeland Security. Your person and your luggage can and will be searched. Forget about your right to privacy, you are passing through a port where all local and federal laws apply and are strictly enforced.

Every person and each piece of luggage will be inspected by dogs trained to detect explosives and contraband. Anyone found to be violating the law and/or in possession of illegal substances or prohibited items (weapons, illegal controlled substances, etc) will be arrested and banned from all future events. For more information on what to expect at embarkation, visit TSA.”

Twenty-four people didn’t heed that statement Saturday, deputies said.

“It ranges from marijuana to cocaine, MDMA or ecstasy. A lot of the drugs are used in a rave scene. A lot of people with paraphernalia,” Brevard County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Tod Goodyear said.

Goodyear told News 6 the port added security this weekend knowing the cruise would set sail Saturday.

“I think that based on some of the things that occurred during previous events and some of the activities that were there, there was some concern that the people that would be traveling would be trying to conceal drugs and bring them on the ships,” Goodyear said.

Among those arrested was DJ Gina Turner.

She has hired a lawyer and said she couldn’t say much about the arrest but did issue a statement.

“I had a medical marijuana card for both of the charges that I’ve been charged with. Though the report says without a prescription, and I had NO cocaine on me at all, false positive result,” Turner said.

She said she plans to fight the charges.

Norwegian is the chosen cruise line for the event. When asked for a comment, officials referred News 6 to law enforcement officials.

Steve Linden, director of communications and public affairs for Port Canaveral, released a statement about the series of arrests.

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TSA experienced one of the busiest Thanksgiving weeks ever

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) experienced one of the busiest Thanksgiving travel weeks in its 16-year history. Sunday was the busiest day of the holiday week with more than 2.6 million passengers and crew members passing through TSA screening. It was the fifth busiest day since the agency was established immediately following the 9/11 attacks.

Half of the busiest days on record in the past 16 years occurred in the past few months.

Even though the volume of individuals screened was remarkably high, nationwide 98.1 percent of all passengers waited less than 20 minutes in a checkpoint line and 99.2 percent of passengers who were in a TSA Pre✓® lane waited less than 10 minutes in a security checkpoint line.

“Enhanced security screening measures and the use of TSA canine teams were in place during the busy Thanksgiving travel period to ensure security of air travel,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “I am very proud of our Transportation Security Officers for their work and attention to detail during a very hectic time, ensuring safe travel for all passengers,” he added.

From Friday, Nov. 17 through Sunday, Nov. 26, TSA screened 21,613,767 passengers and crew at airport checkpoints nationwide. More than 13.6 million checked bags were screened during the same time period. Typically, an average travel day would see TSA screen in the neighborhood of 2.1 million passengers and crew, but in the busiest days of the Thanksgiving travel week, TSA screened as many as a half million more passengers per day than usual.

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Port Manatee enhances security while facilitating record commerce

While Port Manatee’s record-setting cargo volumes have been stealing the headlines, Manatee County’s seaport has quietly been enhancing its around-the-clock security to facilitate the swift, efficient flow of increasing genuine commerce and avert movement of unauthorized people and goods.

During the past year, Port Manatee’s highly trained security staff has bolstered its role, assuming functions that previously had been the responsibility of terminal operators. By doing so, redundancies have been eliminated, allowing the highest levels of security to be provided at the lowest cost as growing amounts of diverse cargos cross port docks.

To ensure safety and protection at all times, nearly three-dozen security officers – representing the seaport’s largest department – work in collaboration with a full spectrum of local, state and federal enforcement agencies, from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Manatee County residents should rest easy knowing that port security is on duty 24/7 every day of the year, including holidays and when natural disasters strike. For example, when Hurricane Irma struck in September, port security remained in place, ensuring that critical landside operations – such as the movement of fuel-carrying trucks – could proceed even as waterside activity was under federal suspension.

September also brought news that Port Manatee had been awarded a $946,950 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant that will allow a doubling from two to four outbound lanes at the main gate, greatly expanding capabilities for meeting federal screening requirements for rapidly rising numbers of fuel trucks and other commercial vehicles leaving port property.

The grant also will help the port enhance its contingent of screening equipment, upgrade its main gate intercom system and update credential readers.

Credentialing remains a critical component of securing Port Manatee’s 1,100-plus-acre property, as the port continues to meet post-9/11 mandates for Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, or TWICs. Indeed, Port Manatee was one of the first U.S. ports to fully implement electronic verification requirements of the TWIC program, including biometric reading.

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TSA adds automated screening lanes to Midway Airport

Chicago (WSL)–With a record 50 million people expected to travel over the week of Thanksgiving, the Transportation Security Administration unveiled new technology Thursday to get people through lines faster at Midway Airport.

TSA officials said travelers will make it through security about 50 percent faster than in the past.

The first thing travelers will notice? Larger bins. A laptop, toiletries, a pair of shoes and a jacket will all fit in one bin, instead of the usual two or three. Everything will get scanned at once, and after the bins go through and travelers retrieve their belongings, an automated system kicks the bins back to the front of the line.

Travelers will also notice a change if their bag is singled out for additional screening.

“If there’s an item that we want to take another look at in the bag, a possible threat item, the system automatically kicks that bag with a diverter arm off to the side. It goes onto a separate belt system and waits there for one of our officers to screen that bag,” said TSA’s Kevin McCarthy.

In the past, bags would stand in a queue, waiting for an officer to arrive and holding up passengers.

The new system is being launched on only two of Midway’s 17 security lanes, with the possibility for more in the future.

This new system already exists at O’Hare International Airport, where travelers may have noticed two of these automated lanes in the United Terminal and another three in the American Terminal. They were installed a year ago and TSA said they are making a difference when it comes to cutting down passenger wait time for security screenings.

TSA personnel will be on-hand during this transition to help travelers navigate the new equipment.

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Army veteran TSA agent runs exploding battery away from passengers at Orlando Airport

“The Transportation Safety Administration released surveillance video showing an agent moving a smoking bag containing an exploding lithium-ion battery away from passengers during a panic at Orlando International Airport Friday.

The TSA agent, a 20-year Army veteran, said he believed the bag to be an improvised explosive device. He placed it between a concrete column and a concrete planter to mitigate any harm that might come with a full explosion.

The TSA commended the agent, saying he ran the bag away even as panicked passengers “knocked over the queuing stanchions and dropped roller bags, creating loud banging sounds which were perceived as gunshots, further spreading panic throughout the airport.”

Numerous people at OIA reported there was a panic caused by those loud noises, initially thought to be gunshots.

“Our TSA Team’s performance was outstanding. I’m very proud of our team and how they responded to both the incident and the recovery process of rescreening passengers,” said Jerry Henderson, TSA Federal Security Director.
“Our people responded as they are trained to do, and to lead passengers to safety.”

The Orlando Police Department said on Twitter that no shots had been fired and it was “a loud sound that startled people.”

The department later said on Twitter that the noise was caused by a lithium-ion battery that exploded inside a camera.

The bag the camera was in started to smolder, but no one was injured, the OPD tweet said.

The incident was first reported just after 5 p.m., airport officials said in a statement.

“As a result of the incident, a ground stop was issued and a number of flights were held while passengers were allowed back into the building and security checkpoints reactivated,” the statement said.

The incident did not pose any danger to people at the airport, the department’s Twitter post said.

Regardless, photos given to Channel 9 showed a normally busy terminal that was completely empty.

Because everyone who evacuated the terminal had to go through security screening again, travelers were experiencing inordinately long lines.

“It’s crazy. Nobody knows anything,” traveler McKenzie Golden said.
She had just gone through the security checkpoint and was preparing to get onto a flight home to Michigan when the chaos hit.

“I heard people screaming and then everybody hit the ground and people were basically running over each other, trampling each other,” Golden said.
Numerous flights were delayed due to the incident.

Hours after the battery explosion, massive crowds were still working their way through security to get to their flights.”

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TSA Pre ✓® expands to include 5 additional airlines

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration today announced the expansion of its TSA Pre✓® expedited screening program to five additional domestic and international carriers. Now in operation, the five new partnering airlines are All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Contour Aviation, Finnair and Korean Air. Today’s announcement brings the number of airlines participating in TSA Pre✓® to 42 domestic and international carriers.

TSA Pre✓® is an expedited screening program that enables low-risk travelers to enjoy a smart and efficient screening experience at 200 U.S. airports. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets.

TSA Pre✓® is available when departing from a U.S. airport to a foreign country, and for domestic, connecting flights after returning to the U.S. Travelers who are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. can apply for TSA Pre✓® for a cost of $85 for five years, or $17 per year through the TSA Pre✓® application program. Once approved, travelers will receive a “Known Traveler Number” and will have the opportunity to utilize TSA Pre✓® lanes at select security checkpoints when traveling on any of the 42 participating airlines.

Other passengers who are eligible for TSA Pre✓® include: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI. TSA Pre✓® is also available for U.S. Armed Forces service members, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves and National Guard. To find the program that best suits your travel needs, use the Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler comparison tool.

As always, TSA continues to incorporate unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travelers will be screened, and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening.

For more information, visit tsa.gov or read the frequently asked questions.

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TSA deploys hundreds of staff to assist with hurricane relief efforts

“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed more than 1,100 members of its workforce to help with hurricane relief efforts in some of the hardest-hit areas.

About 500 employees were dispatched to assist with screening operations at impacted airports, while another 660 TSA workers volunteered to serve on the Department of Homeland Security’s “Surge

Capacity Force” to help deliver aid directly to storm survivors.

At Cyril King Airport in St. Thomas, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma, the TSA has had to use alternative screening methods — such as canine teams and hand-held metal detectors — to screen passengers for charter flights.

And in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the airport was so crippled by Hurricane Maria that Federal Aviation Administration technicians had to use chainsaws to clear a path in order to reach radar sites and restore the radar technology.

“I am proud and humbled by the spirit and dedication to service exhibited by the TSA workforce. Several TSA officers even walked miles from their homes in St. Thomas to reach the airport,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a statement.

“Make no mistake, TSA stands ready to help reopen impacted airports following Hurricane Maria, and I am very gratified by the continued commitment to mission demonstrated by TSA employees across the country,” he said.

The TSA volunteers came from 20 airports around the country. The agency vowed to continue using local personnel and volunteers to help airports and airlines recover from the disaster.
The Hill”

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Spare change you forget at TSA checkpoints

All the nickels, dimes and quarters travelers leave behind at airport security checkpoints adds up to big bucks — enough that next time you forget your change after emptying your pockets, you might want to go back for it.

In fiscal year 2016, travelers left behind a record $867,812.39, according to a report from the Transportation Security Administration. That’s over $100,000 more than went unclaimed the previous year. Of that amount, nearly $80,000 was in foreign currency.

“TSA makes every effort to reunite passengers with items left at the checkpoint, however there are instances where loose change or other items are left behind and unclaimed,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. “Unclaimed money, typically consisting of loose coins passengers remove from their pockets, is documented and turned into the TSA financial office.”

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport ranked the highest for unclaimed money with $70,615. That was followed by Los Angeles International at $44,811.82. Among D.C. area airports, only Dulles International made the top 10 in unclaimed funds with $20,801.25.

National Airport travelers, however, weren’t far behind Dulles, leaving $18,753.31. And despite being the region’s busiest airport, travelers left only $5,946.50 at checkpoints at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.

So where does all that spare change go? In 2005, Congress gave the TSA the authority to spend the money on security operations.

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Concerns over terrorism lead TSA to issue warning to trucking companies

The images are disturbing: cargo trucks plowing into crowds of people enjoying holiday street festivals and markets.

In recent years, these terrorist attacks have happened often — mostly in European countries — leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds injured.

Now, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration wants truck rental agencies to be more vigilant in efforts to prevent these attacks, releasing a report this week that outlines the increased threat of such incidents.

The report, titled “Vehicle ramming attacks: Threat landscape, indicators and countermeasures,” notes that in the last three years, at least 173 people have been killed and more than 700 wounded in 17 ramming attacks around the world. Within the six-page report, the TSA urges truck companies to report suspicious activity — for example, would-be renters asking about altering a truck — to law enforcement officials.

Moreover, the report warns that no community, “large or small, rural or urban, is immune to attacks of this kind by organized or ‘lone wolf’” attackers.

“Terrorist organizations overseas have advocated conducting vehicle ramming attacks — using modified or unmodified motor vehicles — against crowds, buildings and other vehicles,” the TSA writes in the report. “Such attacks could target locations where large numbers of people congregate, including parades and other celebratory gatherings, sporting events, entertainment venues or shopping centers.”

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