TSA Chief Says Security Needs to Increase Outside of Airport Checkpoints

Mar 8, 2018

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The head of the Transportation Security Administration said that airport security needs to expand beyond just checkpoints and into other public areas of airports.

“We can no longer focus only on preventing the bad guys from getting into the secure area of an airport,” David Pekoske, the TSA administrator, said.

Pekoske became TSA Administrator seven months ago after serving as US Coast Guard vice admiral. The remarks come from the first “State of the TSA” address on Wednesday.

“We face ambitious adversaries who are continuously looking for a point of attack and waiting for us to slip up,” Pekoske said.  “Aviation and surface transportation hubs remain highly prized targets for terrorists. Their modes and methods of attack have evolved and become much more decentralized and opportunistic than ever before.”

Gone are the days of coordinated and detailed terrorist attacks like September 11 or the US Embassy bombings. Less complex, but still incredibly deadly, attacks are becoming more frequent. Methods like using trucks to run over mass amounts of people in crowded areas need to be prevented, too. The TSA is responsible for more than just airport security, but also for security near all forms of transportation like trains and buses.

“Today we are confronted by a current of less-sophisticated techniques and tactics, where lone wolves, radicalized on the Internet, are using inexpensive, low-tech methods to target Americans,” Pekoske said.

The attacks on the Brussels Airport (BRU) and train stations were outside of traditional security measures – like in the airline’s check-in areas or an unguarded metro station. Pekoske said that the TSA needs to focus more on “both sides of the [security] checkpoint and in the public areas where airport and surface transportation systems intersect.”

Pekoske was light on details as to what actions the TSA will take to increase security in traditionally unguarded areas. He mentioned that the agency needs to deploy new technology, improve TSA officer training and raise global aviation security standards.

The TSA chief added it needs to continue to innovate and that its Innovation Task Force is working to find new methods to improve security. Pekoske emphasized the importance of TSA employees, saying the greatest technology in the world would be useless without them.

Featured image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

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