Knoxville airline passengers concerned about TSA misconduct

Knoxville airline passengers concerned about TSA misconduct

Thousands of people pass through McGhee Tyson's TSA security checkpoint every day. Thousands of people pass through McGhee Tyson's TSA security checkpoint every day.

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A new government report finds rampant misconduct among Transportation Security Administration employees at airports across the country.

The report, released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, found 2,000 instances where TSA agents were either sleeping, not following procedure, or allowing relatives to bypass security checkpoints.

Another 3,000 screeners showed up late or didn't come to work at all.

Some airline passengers flying in and out of Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport question whether the bad behavior by screeners could be jeopardizing their safety in the air.

The report does not specify any illegal or unethical behavior by screeners at McGhee Tyson.

Thousands of people pass through McGhee Tyson's TSA security checkpoint every day.

"They make you take your shoes off, your belt, everything out of your pockets," said Bradley Ward, of Knoxville.

While it's not exactly one of the most fun experiences, passengers say they do it because they understand the security procedures are for their own safety on the airplane.

"I do appreciate it and it shows that they're keeping us safe," said Kensi Wieland, of Knoxville.

But hearing that thousands of screeners have been sneaking prohibited items past scanners or napping on the job makes passengers wonder just how much attention is actually being paid to their safety.

"I feel like it's their duty to do it right and be responsible just like everyone else," said Wieland.

"They should be more cautious because there are so many lives at stake," said Korey Barnard, of Houston, Texas, who was flying out of McGhee Tyson Wednesday.

Passengers find it especially unnerving that TSA screeners were found letting their own family members skip security with bags never being checked.

The passengers worry about what is getting on to planes that shouldn't be.

"It's just nerve-wracking also because what if something happens on the plane that could have been prevented?" said Barnard.

"It's concerning. That's definitely a possibility and who knows what would happen," said Ward.

The report also found more than 50 instances of agents stealing from passengers' bags.

"Should I trust them? It just makes me extremely nervous to watch my belongings," said Barnard.

Passengers say they know the majority of the 56,000 TSA agents in the United States are doing their jobs exactly as they should. They believe the ones who are found guilty of misconduct should face serious consequences.

"They should be fired or suffer the consequences," said Barnard.

"When we see them doing their job, it makes us, as paying passengers feel safe," said Wieland.

TSA released a statement following the report saying it holds employees to the "highest ethical standards" and has "zero tolerance for misconduct."  

TSA takes disciplinary action when called for, including termination, the statement said.

The agency says it is looking into establishing a process to verify that employees at all airports are in compliance with the code of conduct.




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