September 11, 2001, terrorist attack brought to light securities gaps at the American Airports. Before the terror attack, it became apparent that numerous security irregularities needed to be addressed. One of the areas of security lapses involved the incompetency of airline employees and security screening procedures. It was discovered that screeners were often unable to detect potential security threat devices that passengers carried on their bodies and luggage. The undetected security threats included weapons like bombs, guns, cutting devices and airborne pathogens. The failure by the airport employees to detect such threatening devices on transiting passengers was faulted on inadequate training, higher passenger turnover against a low number of staffs, unattractive wages, inexperienced labor force and poor screening equipment. Another area that was exposed by the attack was the easy access to the sensitive areas within the America's airports. The terror also proved that access controls within airports were inadequate. For example, individuals with fake credentials had more than 70% chances passing through airports (Stewart & Mueller, 2014). However, after the incident of September 2001, security issues surrounding the airline issues were raised and since then, aviation safety has significantly improved.
After 9/11 terror attacks, the security industry has since flourished. Other than relying on the state for security, many multinational companies have turned to private security organizations. Just like private enterprises, airports in the United States have now upgraded security not only in runways but also within every building for the safety of their employees and clients. Hence, the airline industry is regarded as one of the fastest industries that are upgrading their security. The former United States president George Bush, by providing $20 billion budget for improving intelligence and security, laid the foundation of security upgrade. Subsequently, a few months later Transport Security Administration (TSA) was established. After its formation, TSA embarked on the recruitment of 65,000 new federal personnel followed by criminal background checks on more than 750, 000 airport employees. Apparently, the increasing of law enforcers and acquisition of new screening gadgets in the airports has increased the screening process. For instance, more air marshals are placed on flights while the FBI does thorough crosschecking on suspicious passengers. There is also quick passenger recognition by the screening gadgets (Stewart & Mueller, 2014).
Personal security has also improved at the airports. That is, other than having identities of passengers; a common belief is that a traveler once on a flight can pose a danger to a plane. Therefore, the security personnel conducts thorough hand search of luggage more carefully after x-ray screening. Besides letting passengers walk through detectors, vigorous wand and pat down searches are conducted. Their Identity Cards are also verified at several checkpoints in the airport. Moreover, security officers do checks for explosive on vehicle arriving into airports. Interestingly, security upgrade in the airports has not been limited to passengers and luggage screenings. Apparently, TSA has also imposed more regulations on travelers. For instance, a passenger is restricted to carrying only one bag and a personal item such as briefcase or purse when on a flight. A traveler must also have proper reservation documentation regarding an airline he or she intends to use. Besides, before 9/11, people were allowed at the gates to watch their loved ones leave as the planes departed. However, due to security measures, those who accompany travelers are not allowed past passenger screening checkpoints. Therefore, after tightening security, TSA has since confiscated more than five million firearms, flammable objects and knives (Mann, 2011).
Measures TSA Can Implemented To Reduce Costs and Offer Effective Solutions
Over the last decade after the September 2001 terror attack, the TSA has spent about $ 1.1trillion in improving security at the airports. It is an evidence of how the duty of beefing up security has become an expensive venture. For instance, $1.2 billion is the annual cost of hiring over 4,000 plain clothed police officers who ride in the nations airways. The organization trains about 5400 screeners annually who eventually earn about $40,000 a year. Also, since TSA relies majorly on technology, it is compelled to spend more than $ 12 billion annually on new scanners alone. Unfortunately, the TSA programs, which rely extensively on constant training, incur substantial turnovers hence, very expensive. Besides, much of the programs do not have measurable benefits. Therefore, it is clear that a part of the trillion dollars used by the nation to protect itself from terrorist attack is wasted. The TSA should implement effective security measures to reduce costs (Stewart & Mueller, 2014).
According to Schneier, a security expert, the TSA security measures is merely theatrical. He states that the organization is investing much in areas where terrorists are unlikely to approach. For instance, full body scanner program was only launched in response 2009 the underwear bomber incident where a Nigerian terrorist hid plastic explosives petn in his pants and had tried to detonate it on the flight. It prompted the installation of over 1,800 scanners in the U.S. airports. The program costs the nation $1.2 billion annually. Unfortunately, the scanners do not detect petns directly but identify suspicious bulging under the clothes worn. It makes the scanners quite ineffective in screening but yet expensive. Such scenario reveals a tendency of TSA to spend much on programs that give less than 90% security sureties. Schneier explains that, by focussing on specific threats for example shoe bombs, TSA is spending a lot of money and time on screening while inducing terrorists to devise other methods of threats. Eventually, TSA spends much time and money and not eradicating the total threat (Mann, 2011).
Instead of focusing on routine security procedures, TSA must streamline the number of its employees and provide them with non-forgeable employee badges. Secondly, it must not overreact to terrorist attacks but do proper assessments before embarking on certain security programs. Most importantly, TSA should collaborate with intelligence agencies to track down terrorist before they get into airports or board airplanes. By combining intelligence with other institutions, TSA will be operating efficiently and effectively. It will also curb wastage of resources. Therefore, TSA must always assess security viability of its intended programs. Must not wait to catch a terrorist at the airports but collaborate with other agencies to counter a terror plan before it occurs.
Therefore, security in the airports has improved significantly since September 2011 terror attack. The security enhancement was made possible after the formation of Transport Security Administration (TSA), which embarked on various security measures within the American airports. For example, more security personnel have been deployed in the airports. High technology screening gadgets have been installed while TSA trains thousands of screeners annually. Such measures by TSA have cost the nation about $1.1 trillion. Therefore, to increase efficiency and better cost management, the TSA must avoid imposing security measures based on just reactions to certain attacks. It must also collaborate with other intelligence bodies to prevent terror plans.
Mann, C. 2011). Does Airport Security Really Make Us Safer? Vanity Fair. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2011/12/tsa-insanity-201112Stewart, M. G., & Mueller, J. (2014). Cost-benefit analysis of airport security: Are airports too safe?. Journal of Air Transport Management, 35, 19-28.
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