Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee misconduct cases increased 27% to 3,408 cases in 2012 from two years earlier, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
“These findings are especially hard to stomach since so many Americans today are sick of being groped, interrogated and treated like criminals when passing through checkpoints,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.). “Stop with the napping, the stealing, the tardiness, and the disrespect.”
The TSA investigated 9,622 cases of employee misconduct between 2010 and 2012. Of those cases, 32% were issues related to attendance, 20% involved security screenings (including sleeping on the job, careless inspections, and allowing bags to bypass screenings), and 10% involved inappropriate comments or abusive behavior. Among the offenses listed in the report, the GAO also found 384 ethics and integrity violations, 155 “appearance and hygiene” complaints, and 56 cases of theft.
Some of the most notable cases of theft by TSA agents include:
- A 2012 case in which two former employees pleaded guilty to stealing $40,000 from a checked bag at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport
- A 2011 case in which an officer admitted to stealing between $10,000 and $30,000 from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey – in this case, a supervisor was involved and accepted kickbacks for allowing the stealing to continue
- A TSA agent stole more than 80 laptops from fliers’ bags
- A former TSA officer stole more than $800,000 worth of goods (the agent, Pythias Brown, told ABC News last year that stealing was easy: “I walked right out of the checkpoint with a Nintendo Wii in my hand. Nobody said a word.”)
Federal lawmakers have criticized the TSA for inconsistent and inadequate disciplinary action. of the cases reviewed, 17% of the misconduct events resulted in employee terminations, 31% resulted in suspension, and 47% with a letter of reprimand. A number of cases have still not been resolved.
Last year, several employees were fired in separate incidents involving sleeping on the job, cheating on tests, and for failing to conduct random screenings.
Duncan said that out of 56 cases of theft in the report, 31 cases resulted in termination, 13 in suspension, 11 in letters of reprimand, and one resignation. He called the letters a “slap on the wrist.”
“Stealing is stealing,” Duncan said. “I would hope that a federal employee that engages in theft of trusting travelers would be disciplined more than with just a letter.”
“It’s disgraceful,” said Rep. John Mica, the Florida Republican who called for the GAO report, at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. “People don’t show up for work, there’s a great cost for taxpayers and great disruption. There’s not even a way to properly report some of the offenses, so this might just be the tip of the iceberg of some of the offenses.”
It is worth mentioning that Mica helped set up the TSA after 9/11, but has since been open about his hatred for it. In March 2011, he called the agency “the little bastard child I created.” He has said the agency is out of control, has far too many screeners, and highly-paid bureaucrats. Mica has also stated that he would like to turn over screening to private companies under TSA supervision.
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Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”