August 18, 2011 in Nation/World

TSA engaging travelers

Andrew Seidman Tribune Washington bureau
 

WASHINGTON – For the next two months at Logan International Airport in Boston, passengers will be casually greeted by Transportation Security Administration officials. But the officers aren’t there for a simple friendly “hello” – they’re trying to deter and detect passengers who pose a risk to aviation security.

As part of TSA’s new behavior-detection pilot program that started this week, screeners are engaging each passenger in Terminal A in casual conversation in an effort to detect suspicious behavior. After passengers provide their boarding pass and ID, they have to answer a few questions from TSA officers who have received two weeks of training.

“It’s one layer of security that will allow us to provide additional screening and concentrate on passengers who may pose a higher risk,” TSA spokesman Greg Soule said.

The program is an evolution of TSA’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program, which launched at Logan in 2003 and has expanded to 160 airports. It has helped arrest 2,000 criminals, but none has been charged with terrorism.

Under the SPOT program, TSA screeners only interrogate individuals after they have been identified as suspicious.


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