Investigating misconduct by Transportation Security Administration employees at Metro Airport

Posted at 11:00 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 10:48:19-04

The congressional report is blunt: "Misconduct at the TSA threatens the security of the flying public."

Released just weeks ago, the memo shows members of the House Homeland Security Committee blasted the Transportation Security Administration - the agency responsible for the security of airline passengers, their belongings and the aircraft.

Much has been reported on security lapses during screenings, but there is now a new focus on misconduct and even criminal behavior among those doing the screening.

Congressional investigators found misconduct is occurring "at all levels" of the TSA and that "bloated bureaucracy" within the agency has slowed accountability.

The number of allegations against employees has increased by nearly 30 percent in the last three years. Congress estimates this represents one in every three TSA employees.

Misconduct allegations are frequent and broad, but more serious is misconduct involving criminal action.

The 7 Investigators, through the Freedom of Information Act, requested data from the TSA on incidents of criminal activity involving agents at Detroit's Metro Airport.

It took more than a year for the agency to provide the data.

Over a two year period, there were 8 documented cases involving TSA personnel that resulted in "criminal action."     

From "sexual misconduct" to "fraud" to the abuse of alcohol, the particulars regarding the infractions - including victim information - were redacted.

Only three of the cases resulted in an immediate firing from the TSA. The overall number of misconduct allegations - non-criminal at Metro - is believed to be much higher.

The TSA says they are doing more to oversee misconduct, including sending new recruits to boot camp to learn things such as ethical behavior.

The TSA also says that the appearance of a rise in misconduct could be due to an increased effort at cracking down. However, that doesn't address why bad behavior seems to exist in such numbers in the first place.     

TSA employs 60,000 people at 430 airports nationwide. They told us in a statement the incidents we cited show they take appropriate action when misconduct is substantiated. Also, they say the criminal cases cited represent less than 1 percent of the TSA workforce at Metro Airport during that time period.

They also say, “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) takes seriously all allegations of inappropriate behavior by its employees and does not tolerate misconduct. However, when such conduct is alleged, TSA investigates it thoroughly and takes appropriate action when an investigation finds that misconduct has occurred.”