TSA Retooling Airport “Chat-Downs” to Eliminate Racial Profiling, Quota Issues


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration, responding to complaints of racial profiling by airport behavior-detection officers, has hired a consultant and will alter performance measures to deter the practice, Bloomberg News reports. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Bloomberg she has retained an expert to work with the department's civil rights section. John Halinski, the TSA's deputy administrator, said the agency will change the program's metrics, so airport managers won't think they have to meet quotas for enforcement actions unrelated to terrorism.

“I decided to task our civil rights section and bring in an outside consultant to really look at the program and make sure that we do not engage in impermissible racial profiling, and that the program was bringing security value,” Napolitano said. The changes in behavior-detection programs, which include so-called chat-downs used in Boston and Detroit, follow reports that TSA officers at Boston's Logan International Airport targeted Hispanic and black travelers for added questioning. “As long as we push officers to look for drug smugglers rather than look for terrorists, and we give them a quota of the number of encounters, you can expect to see the result we're seeing now,” said Rafi Ran, a former security chief at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport who helped set up the TSA's initial behavior-detection efforts in Boston.

Comments are closed.