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Are we creating a new Federal monster?

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Well-known member
Jan 7, 2002
I always hesitate starting a new topic on a web site that I am new member. I am afraid that the topic that I am interested in has already been brought up. However in this case the subject is relativity new, so I will press on.

Are we creating a new Federal monster?

The federalism of all airport security/screeners really has me worried. I was a B-727 Captain for ten years with the United States Marshal Service. In those ten years I worked with nearly every Federal Law Enforcement Agency of the U. S. Government and a few foreign governments law enforcement agencies. I saw things during this period that would make you sick. Heck, it turned my hair white. Abuse of power, total disregard of people’s rights, application of petty authority to its maximum, blatant arrogance and plain rudeness. Sometimes it was hard for us (pilots) to tell the difference between the guards and the prisoners

During the ten years I was with the USMS there were three Deputy U.S. Marshals that were convicted of crimes committed on the job and sent to prison. Two other Deputies were fired with total loss of retirement benefits. Six guards were sent to prison. There were numerous occasions that guards and Deputies were ‘put on the street’ (suspended without pay) for periods ranging from 2 days to a month for crap they pulled. There were a number of hotels that refused to let us stay again after we had stayed there a few times. The reasons the hotels gave ran from passing bad checks to theft. Sometimes I and the other pilots were embarrassed to be associated with these people. It got so bad for a while that we pilots refused to stay in the same hotel as the backend crew.

Now I do want you to understand not all the Deputies and guards were bad. I was privileged to work with some very highly motivated individuals. These people were very well educated and highly trained, sadly they were the exception rather than the rule. The people that I am addressing on this topic are the lower echelon of law enforcement. The unmotivated, undereducated (high school or less) and poorly trained person that wants to carry a badge and gun the worst way. We called them cop want-to-be’s.

I have worked with these types of people. You give these people a little authority, federal law enforcement badge and a gun, well, it’s going to be scary folks. The US Air pilot was lucky that the security people were not Federal yet, because not only would he be facing more charges, interference with Federal Law Enforcement Officer, failure to obey a lawful order from a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, etc. they could have shot him.

I am not yet defending the US Air pilot because all the details have not been released. But this type of incident will become more frequent and the harassment will become worse. These type of people that will become the majority of the Federal security screeners love power and the more they get away with abusing power the worse things will become.

I predict that with five years or less the airport security/screener system will be total chaos. All the screeners will be Federal Law Enforcement Officers, they will have a union and nobody can be fired because of incompetence. They will top heavy in manpower and will be costing a fortune. The really sad fact will be that airport security will not be a bit better than it was before 9-11.

I have been harassed because I am a pilot by security screener and from I have read on this and other web sites so have a lot of other pilots and flight attendants. I am sure the all of you, as myself, have witnesses and heard stories about abuses by security screeners and they are still private contractors. Just wait until they become Federal.

All of us in this industry understand the need for a highly improved airport security system. However we need a system that works and that is effective. I really feel that having the FAA to operate the system is the wrong way to go. One reason is that the FAA is not a law enforcement agency, it is a regulatory agency. The F.B.I., Secret Service and the United States Marshal Service are law enforcement agencies. As bad as they are at least they are in the law enforcement business.

Even though I somewhat question the efficiently of the US Marshal Service I feel that they could provide a much better system than the FAA. One of the responsibilities of the US Marshal Service is to protect the Federal Court system. They protect the buildings, federal juries, witnesses and federal court judges. The Court Security Division (COURTSEC) does an excellent job and they do it with a lot of part time help. Yes, part time help. Unlike the idiots that we were saddled with in the Air Operations Division COURTSEC hires retired law enforcement officers (both local and federal) and retired military personnel. People who have had good training, years of experience, good education and can speak English. Using retired law enforcement and military personnel has a lot of good features. They already have medical care, they already have a retirement income, very few have young dependents enabling them to work flexible hours and so on. Hiring these types of people alone will save a ton of money in personnel cost.

By the way, in spite of what Hollywood has portrayed, the United States Marshal Service’s Witness Protection Division (WITSEC) has never lost a person (that has obeyed the rules) that they have protected.

Anyway I know that there a lot smarter people than me on this web site, so let’s have some feedback and ideas.
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Very well written and insightful post on the subject - Thanks!
To answer your question, yes, a new monster is being created. Also, I agree with your assesment of the future.

The U.S. Air incident really makes my blood boil. Yes, I know we should keep quiet in front of the security people. But the fact is there is a real lack of leadership on this. I have not talked to one pilot who does not see the futility of searching and frisking a guy(or gal) and then letting them sit at the controls of the aircraft. There needs to be separate security for crew with a computer datadase with pictures, description,ect. I for one would be willing to strike to see these changes. Anyway, that's my two cents.
Con-pilot -

I've seen what you're talking about. I was on a federal jury a while back and we had a US Marshall as a bailiff. He was a super nice, very helpful guy. These were some pretty nasty guys on trial and the he helped reassure us that the bad guys wouldn't come after us. It was the paid informants that would have to be looking over their shoulder.

I have a friend who is a customs agent. He's a very nice, down to earth guy. But I have to say that the majority of federal cops I've met and heard of have bad attitudes. I remember an incident in Houston where some DEA agents went into a strip joint (armed, of course). They got into an argument with the manager about paying a cover charge and ended up having a shoot out with the guy!!! Talk about arrogant.

Then there's Ruby Ridge and Waco...

I was floored when I found out that there are employees in the IRS, department of education and department of energy who carry guns?! The fed law enforcement thing is getting out of control.

I have no question in my mind that this is why the aram/muslum secret service agent hassled the AA captain last month. ...and more will occur.

I don't think you need to worry about posting here. Your careful thought is apparent in your post. Interesting to hear your story too.


Great post and welcome to the board. I agree with what you're saying in regards to the current and probable future make-up of this Federal Screening Organization(whatever it will be called).

To expound a little on what AggiePilot added, a friend was a Customs Agent for a few years when we finished undergrad. Burnout came pretty fast for him, JFK was his post. Is a small town police officer now. He told me some interesting things about the people who worked in Customs. Those that had been there for extensive periods of time, some around 20 years, he said were incredible profilers capable of picking 9 out of 10 people for search that would be caught with something they shouldn't have. Mostly drugs.

I know that profiling is a sensitive issue to some in these regards but with proper training and with the knowledge learned from law enforcement agencies the Customs type of agent could be just what we need in those roles. And 35k would probably be a raise over what these Customs agents actually start at (I don't really know, but I'd be surprised if it was 40k). I'll bet most are high school and probably college educated.

I'd think this type of person would have been far less likely to give the U.S. Air pilot a hard time for one remark. Everyone says something now and then that immediately afterwards they say to themselves " Oh, why did I say that?". I'd hate to see the guy get fired over this.

As for IRS agents carrying guns; I'd want a gun too anytime I went to talk to somebody about why they haven't paid taxes in a couple years. Especially in Texas. Happy flying everyone.

Mr. Irrelevant

Excellent post and excellent thread... Thanks for the insight...

Welcome aboard!
Yes it will be a huge bloated federal monster. I think that the times have changed and and we will just have to deal with it. It is here now because of the knee jerk reaction of the ill-informed American public. As for the US Airways pilot being arrested let this be a stark lesson for everyone, nobody is above scrutiny. Airports, for the time being, have become sacred ground. One last thought, what does it take to have an airline pilot fired? Let us all be intellectually honest when we answer this. If the American public knew what actually happenned in cockpits there would be sweeping regulation there also. We have a lot of bloated monsters in the aviation industry and we just added one more.
President Bush tried to get a good compromise through Congress, but the fat government Democrats wouldn't have it. I can't believe we have another federal agency, when the others don't work very well. Just wait until a federal screener goes postal on an aircraft or in an airport. Then who will we call?

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