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TSA baggage screeners disciplined in Boston for being distracted by their mobile devices

Aug 29, 2012 12:05 am

Skift Take

Whether its at the security gate where they’ve been accused of racial profiling and pursuing quotas or behind the scenes where they should be scanning bags, the TSA employees at Boston Logan clearly need some leadership.

— Jason Clampet

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The Transportation Security Administration has moved to fire six bag-screeners and suspend 14 others at Logan International Airport in Boston for performing inadequate luggage checks, some because they were distracted by their cellphones or other electronic devices.

The moves were prompted by a routine audit that showed some officers were not paying close attention to monitors that display the contents of each bag passing through an explosives-detection machine. Those screeners were distracted by their phones or other devices and are being recommended for unpaid suspensions ranging from three to 14 days.

The six employees the TSA is seeking to fire are accused of ignoring protocol to hand-inspect bags that trigger alarms. When screeners are unable to determine what set off the alarms, they are supposed to take the bags into a separate screening room for inspection.

The TSA said no dangerous materials got through the detection system. The Boston Globe first reported the disciplinary actions.

The employees, who all worked in the same baggage room, have a week to appeal.

“All TSA employees are held to the highest standards of conduct and accountability,” the agency said Tuesday in a statement. “These standards are critical to our work and TSA’s commitment to the safety of the traveling public.”

The agency said the actions and not related to an investigation into allegations of racial profiling by TSA behavior-detection officers at Logan.

The bag-screening lapses were discovered during a routine audit in which managers reviewed closed-circuit television video to see when alarms were triggered and how workers handled the events. The workers facing termination or suspension were told Monday.

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