Security Personnel in Norfolk International Airport
The Norfolk international airport, according to Sharkey (2013), is a public-owned facility the ownership of which falls under the city of Norfolk. Although run by the Norfolk airport authority, it is a part of the Norfolk municipality. Being the third largest and busiest airport in Virginia, Sharkey (2013) observes that it has over eighty flights leaving the airport, going to some of the major cities on a daily basis. He also points out that it ranks among the top seventy largest airports globally with an annual client base of over 3.5 million passengers.
Transport Security Administration (TSA) Duties
After being successfully selected to join the Norfolk international airport as a TSA, an individual is required to play various roles that are aimed at securing the airport and airlines operations. These roles are stipulated in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mission. Usually, individuals interested in joining the TSA apply for specific duties. After absorption to ORF, training is done to suit the applicant’s interests. This means that every applicant specifies unique areas in which he/she expects to work (Das, 2013). Particularly, the new recruits are required to work in detection and prevention of entry of harmful and dangerous materials in the airport. For example, they work in identification of suspicious objects in cargo, passenger’s luggage as well bags. A new recruit is required to carry out vast roles such as hand-wanding the passengers before they come aboard of the airliner. New recruits are also expected to perform pat down searches, as well as do screening duties using electronic gadgets such as handheld garret and other electronic devices. They also ensure that visitors and passengers pass through metal detectors prior to entering the airport (FAA, 2013).
It is always important for a new recruit to note that the TSO job can be stressing and physically demanding due to its diverse tasks. For example, a holder of the position is required to perform chores such as lifting of the baggage that could weigh as heavy as 70 pounds. Workers also spend much time standing on their duties. The standing period could range between one and four hours (Hughes, 2012). Normally, this may go on without a break until the completion of a specified shift. Holders of the position may also walk for over two miles during their shift. Professionalism is integral to all duties of the TSO. Every worker is required to carry out his/her duties in a professional manner while exhibiting courtesy and politeness. However, TSA provides a rewarding and long-term opportunity for all transportation security officers. It is always important for every person interested in joining the Norfolk International Airport security department to understand all the aspects and terms of employment before the assessment process begins (Holeywell, 2013).
After being hired by TSA, long-term employment depends on productive culmination of the necessary training. Usually, the training period spans for 10 days upon which the newly recruited employees spend a minimum of nine hours between 7am-4:30pm. Normally, the training days are determined by the day on which new recruits arrive during a new recruitment orientation. Upon hiring of a new worker, minimum 95 hours are required on a specific assignment in a shift. This is referred to as an on-job training period. Usually, it is always important to finish the required training assignment in a specified period in order to create time for certification processing. After completion of the recommended training, certificates are awarded to new successful recruits. Ordinarily, after the training culmination, the new security officers are required to finish a two-day preparation for class training. Generally, all the work shifts for the transportation security officers are determined by the airport’s active environment. TSA operates concurrently with the airlines and the airport. Operations of TSA are normally supplemented by the airlines schedules. During the new recruitment training, all hired TSA are given work shifts. The shift counts both holidays and weekends (Holeywell, 2013). Every new recruit has a specific shift timetable issued by the TSA after successful completion of training. Part-time employees are required to work for five days in a week. This is inclusive of Saturdays and Sundays. All TSA employees are required to bid for work-time shifts once every New Year. This is usually based on the TSO seniority. After successful training, new employees are required to be in TSO’s uniforms. New recruits are measured for uniforms during their initial orientation session. Every TSA has a responsibility of maintaining hygiene and cleanness. The uniform must be clean and neat all time as stipulated in the guidelines of the TSA uniforms. The uniforms consists of two pairs of trousers, two long-sleeve shirts, two ties, and three short-sleeve shirts, a jacket, a belt, socks, and a sweater. TSA officers are only required to provide non-slip sole black shoes to wear with their uniforms. TSA also provides allowance to cater for uniform expenses such as replacement of worn uniforms. It is the duties of TSAs to clean, maintain, and replace the worn uniforms (Nixon, 2013).
According to Powers (2013), all the TSA day officers are required to pay for parking after employment. However, it lasts for a short period of time until they are provided with parking badges. Parking is available at a fee of 20 dollars per month. All the employees both part-time and full-time ones are also entitled to all the federal employees’ benefits. These benefits are provided by the FEHB. All the employees can choose their benefit plan and pay from their pre-tax income. The rates are reasonable and affordable for all employees. TSA pays a large percentage of the FEHB rates for all the TSOs that operate on a part-time basis.
The Levels of Security Guards at the Norfolk International Airport
Comprehensive answers for the airport security are considered as significant in all activities of the airport. The security is intertwined into the architectural design of airport activities protecting passengers, infrastructure, employees, and information. Some attributes of the Norfolk’s security systems include
Access Control Systems
The facility has a tremendously elaborated access control level, which is controlled by the same authority. For over twenty years, the facility has specialized in the installation and establishment of automated control systems for security access, including those offered to the U.S. atomic power firms and nuclear energy processing amenities. These are considered as the busiest industries in the world in terms of security. The Norfolk’s experience overrides those of any suppliers on the market.
The demand for more security has compelled the Transportation Security Administration to invest more time in completing the process of screening. This therefore means that the TSA is always in search for means of continuing to improve security, ensuring that the flow of passengers is as competent as possible. In terms of this aspect, as well as due to the established success of the Norfolk Authority, there have occurred the developments of the Crew Personnel Progressive Screening System that is a substitute for screening of crewmembers of the airline, which will accelerate frontier clearance into protected airport terminal zones, while further improving security.
Crew PASS forces the fundamental CASS constructions and also introduces sophisticated fingerprint biometric abilities. The combination of these two technologies offers the highest extent of security needed to enable accelerated clearance of the crewmembers. The CrewPASS idea was initially brought up and improved to the TSA by the ALPA. The ALPA still offers the grassroots sustenance needed to advance the program further.
Radio Frequency Identification
The increasing number of passengers, stringent security guidelines, longer waits, as well as shorter about-turns have influenced reconciliation of baggage, as well as it processing in the current years. The authority recognizes the requirement for a fully unified and scalable system of baggage management, which is more reliable, efficient, and flexible than the currently existing one (Powers, 2013).
The Norfolk Airport Authority’s Police Department
The Police Department of Norfolk Airport Authority has a duty of providing safety to the public, as well as enforcing the law throughout the Norfolk International Airport’s ground. The Department upholds good relationships and closely works with Cities of Virginia Beach Police branch and Norfolk City Departments, the Criminal Investigations Bureau of the state police of Virginia, the FAA, the FBI, firearms, and the Alcohol, Tobacco Bureau. The Transportation Security Administration currently undertakes all the passenger and cargo screening duties at the Norfolk International Airport. Pre-boarding capabilities of screening include two checkpoints, which are fully staffed during the operational hours in the airport.
The Norfolk Airport Authority acts through its executive director who controls a certified and professional team of security guards as well as patrol Services Company in provision of qualified, trained, and professional personnel. These personnel have been approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Services in Virginia to give unarmed security guard services at the Norfolk International Airport. The qualified personnel usually report to work and are recruited in order to take up their responsibilities and duties for the respective positions to which they are assigned. One requirement in qualifications for the guards is a clean record in terms of their criminal history (Das, 2013). All the hired guards, through their security contractor, are required to have successfully completed fingerprint-related criminal history record verification as well as a background check for their transport security administration prior to their recruitment at the airport. The background and criminal history verifications are usually additional to those considered as necessary by the Virginian Commonwealth for all security personnel.
Levels of Training
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the US, the Congress enacted the public law No. 107-71 in the transportation and aviation security Act. Enactment of this Act led to the creation and establishment of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) body. This body was mandated to hire and train new employees in the aviation security industry in the United States. In February, 2002, TSA was officially incorporated into the aviation sector, including the Norfolk International Airport. According to Napolitano (2009), TSA took all the functions of aviation security, including hiring and initial training of new federal employees in the aviation security. All the recruited employees are trained how to carry out the passenger and baggage screening duties. This is the core training level of every security personnel in the Norfolk International Airport. TSA training requirements stipulate that every hired employee should complete a 40-hour classroom work and 60-hour OJT (On-the-job training). This is the basic training program of the Norfolk new security employees. After this basic training, all the newly trained personnel who have passed the classroom instruction and the on- the-job-training program are required to sit for OJT exam prior to assuming their duties independently. Finally, after all the new recruits have passed through this comprehensive initial training requirement, the trainees are required to pass through the recurrent training as well as operational testing. TSA also carries out proficiency review on annual basis, upon which it engages in security personnel recertification testing. There are four levels of training adopted by TSA. These include analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation (Nixon, 2013). The analysis entails proper assessment of every trainee by focusing on his/her abilities and weaknesses in the delivery of services. In this step, the training instructors first familiarize themselves with their hired trainees’ abilities. After this, the training team proceeds to the design level. Here, trainers transform their observations at the analysis stage into course work. At this stage, instructors develop a suitable curriculum that compliments the requirements and needs of every new trainee, while catering for their weaknesses. This course transforms screeners into the best team to work in the aviation security industry. The next level of training after design is implementation. The implementation level is integral and prerequisite for all the screening trainees in the Norfolk International Airport. Implementation seeks to ascertain the skills of the newly trained screening workforce (FAA, 2013). There are several objectives of the implementation level of training. These include recertification of screening officers and reinstatement of the-on-job training (OJB). Implementation level also ensures that instructors do not coach students during the practical classes, but rather allow students to apply what they have learnt at the design level. The final level of basic classroom training is the evaluation level that seeks to ensure that the training that the hired trainees have passed through is relevant and applicable in their work functions. This ensures that airport security operations are developed and stipulated in the set security protocols of the airport security operations (Cole, 2002).
Long-term employment by TSA depends on the productive completion of the stipulated training period. TSA requires that a trainee completes a 10-day full-time classroom instruction course (Nixon, 2013). This constitutes 40 hours of classes that last from 7am to 4.30pm. The commencements of the classes and the days are determined by the day on which arrival and orientation of new security trainees begins. In classroom, security trainees learn various techniques that are essential during screening of passengers as well as the baggage. Trainees receive substantial practical instructions as well as tests that subject them to understanding the airport standard operating procedures. This knowledge is essential as it enables them to carry on their functions such as screening of passengers with hand-held metal detectors (Cole, 2002). Baggage screeners receive instructions how to screen baggage and detect explosives’ traces.
They also receive training on handling of explosives gadgets as well as other dangerous weapons found in the airport. During their classes, trainees also receive instructions on airport safety measures. As discussed earlier, on-the-job training is a prerequisite for new security personnel trainees. OJT requires a minimum of 60-95 hours. In this training course, all the security trainees are assigned workstations or assignments in their normal scheduled shifts. TSA also sets exams for OJT. These exams require appropriate revision. The exams test baggage and passengers screening techniques. All the screening officers are required to get a certain mandatory mark before proceeding to the next level of the training.
After this two-step basic training, all the new trainees who are successful in the classroom instruction and the on-the-job-training program are called to sit for the OJT exam before assuming their screening duties independently. Finally, after all the new recruits have passed this comprehensive initial training requisites, the security personnel are required to pass through the recurrent training examination as well as operational testing. TSA also carries out yearly proficiency review upon which it engages in security personnel recertification testing. Generally, after successful completion of the recommended training period, which includes instruction classes and OJT, certificates are awarded to the security personnel. As a rule, after the training culmination, new security officers are required to finish a two-day preparation for the class training (Hughes, 2012).
TSA Retraining Initiatives
TSA has rolled several training initiatives. This is in an effort to ensure efficient protection of all airports, including the Norfolk International Airport. Effective security workforce must be properly trained and retrained on frequent basis concerning various technical and technological advancements in the aviation security industry. Since its inception, TSA has rolled several training initiatives for its workforce. These initiatives include Leaders at Every level (LEL) initiative. This initiative is aimed at nurturing all the TSOs into Senior Federal security directors in the airport (Hughes, 2012). The initiative also nurtures TSOs into headquarter managers of the Norfolk International Airport. Secondly, TSA has introduced performance management initiative for all other non-TSOs. This is beneficial as it helps the non-TSOs build their career in the aviation security by boosting them through promotions. Thirdly, TSA has introduced the communications skills development course initiative, which is aimed at continuous improvement of the security officers’ communication skills. Effective communication is paramount to the overall quality performance of the security personnel. The course is tailored for all officers, supervisors, and managers in the airport. It is taught at the end of every year. Another initiative launched by TSA is the Emphasis upon Supervision. This course comprises the essentials of Supervising Screening Operations. The course is tailor-made for STSOs only. It is developed with a plan to help the STSOs nurture technical, leadership, as well as operation skills. The course allows the STSOs to monitor their leadership capabilities and weaknesses through effective communication with the individuals they come across while in the workplace (Holeywell, 2013). This course helps the TSOs to strengthen their customer relations skills. This ensures effective interaction of this workforce with their team members, the stakeholders, as well as the travelling public.
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Types of Gun Qualifications
TSA has stipulated rules that govern the carriage of weapons in the aircraft. The rules only allow the law enforcement officers to carry weapons like guns. Other individuals who are not law enforcing officers cannot be allowed to carry weapons aboard the aircraft. There are set regulations that seek to ensure all the baggage meets the standard requirement of TSA gun qualifications as well as the private airline policies (Thomas, 2013). Carry-on luggage has to meet specific set regulations by TSA. It is worth noting that TSA bans many weapons as well as various tools used in sporting activities. The regulations do not only ban the weapons, but also the replicas of the weapons such as toy guns. Trying to enter the Norfolk International Airport with any form of unacceptable weapon will result in arrest and questioning during the security screening. This will ultimately lead to detainment. TSA regulations require screening of weapons for all individuals entering the airport. All types of firearms, including hand guns, carried to the airport are sometimes unpacked and exposed in some distinctive conditions (Thomas, 2013). It is a legal requirement for any individual who is in possession of any type of firearm to disclose to the screening officers that his/her luggage contains the firearms. Upon declaration, an individual may be required to sign up a firearm unloaded declaration form, which is given at the counter. TSA also bans all the powders used in the manufacture of explosives, as well as antique firearms. However, various airlines have specific requirements that involve carriage of the ammunition. Many other weapons that are often encountered in the luggage such as spear guns, swords, and clubs are allowed by TSA.
Levels of Pay
Unlike other federal pay grades, the TSA pay scale is different. TSA uses the SV grading system. According to the TSA website, the minimum pay of the security employees is $10,560 whereas the maximum pay is $15,440. The level of pay for all the TSA workers is put in a grading system. The grading system runs from A to M. Ordinarily, TSA does not employ the government standard (GS) scale of remuneration. A worker at grade A receives a minimum salary of $17,083 and a maximum of $24,977. Group B is paid a minimum of $19,570 and a maximum of $28,546 (TSA, 2013).
In place of this scale, TSA uses a fundamental system composed of distinct grades comprising of various bands that differ from the government standard pay. Specific letters other than usual numbers in the GS identify distinctive grades. Usually, TSO working with Norfolk International Airport enjoy several benefits that are accrued to all the federal employees working under the TSA body. These benefits are not always available to other airports. TSA also promotes employees’ wellness through creation of affordable health services as well as subsidized FEHB premiums. In other airports, security personnel remunerations are significantly different. Unlike the Norfolk International Airport security personnel, other airport security personnel do not receive attractive benefits like those given by TSA. For example, other airports’ security employees are not entitled to federal benefits.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
It is critical for the FAA to take full charge of the airport considering significant safety responsibilities that they offer (Carey, 2013). Within the Norfolk International Airport, the FAA, according to Napolitano (2009), regulates airspace and the air traffic. This is done by ensuring that almost over 1,000 aircrafts flying out of the Norfolk airport or landing there are safe and cleared to do so without any incidents or accidents. Apart from controlling the air traffic, Napolitano (2009) states that the FAA plays an advisory role by advising the Norfolk airport management on various technological advancements that they need to keep up to conform to other international technological advancements within the same field. The latter is done by encouraging any aviation technological innovations as long as they conform to and do not breach the set safety aviation standards.
The FAA being in charge of licensing the aviation management ensures that all airplanes introduced in the Norfolk International Airport have been dully inspected and approved as per the FAA regulations before functioning (Carey, 2013). This cuts across the quality of pilots, as well as the standards of the airport runways within their jurisdiction. The whole essence of such strict measures, as Nixon (2013) puts it, is to ensure that the Norfolk International Airport does comply with all the set standards for the safety of both the airline and passengers it transports. The latter helps the airport to enjoy great public confidence by helping in limiting cases of accidents or incidents and as a result increasing the profits margin and other gains. The FAA does not only deal with the aircraft safety or passengers’ safety, but puts into consideration some of the environmental hazards the aircrafts have introduced in the Norfolk International Airport (Nixon, 2013). Such emissions must be in compliance with the FAA international standards of aviation as well as the ones relating to the noise reduction for the sake of residents dwelling within the vicinity of the Norfolk International Airport, which according to Powers (2013), involves the roles of ensuring safety flights operations that are secure and environmentally friendly.
The FAA encounters some security challenges since it is trained to handle more of the technical challenges related to aviation as opposed to offering physical security within the airports that may pose a threat to the national security (Powers, 2013). Some of the measures they employ to detect the latter are sometimes surpassed by what terrorists devise today. This calls for a close correlation and partnership with other security agencies such as TSA among others.
Transportation Security Administration
Unlike the FAA whose mandate is inspection and endorsement, TSA is only involved in eliminating security threats and risk management when the client is mostly a voluntary participant. Their responsibilities and services are not only carried out in the aviation sector, but also cut across other sectors of the transport industry. In the Norfolk International Airport, TSA plays a vital role in ensuring that all flights, attendants as well as clients are adequately protected from any possible security danger or threat within the air transport area (Congressional Research Service, 2008). Should the airport authority receive any intelligence concerning a possible security breach, they liaise with TSA in managing the security risk posed (Powers, 2013). The latter is based on the priority of the impeding threat, which they analyze along with coming up with possible ways of handling the threat.
According to Napolitano (2009), by liaising with the Norfolk airport intelligence office, TSA analyses potential avenues, which terrorists might use to cause destruction on their flight or within the Norfolk airport itself, try to minimize such possibility through thorough screening of all the aircrafts in question, attendants as well as passengers. He additionally cites that should they gain any intelligence concerning any possible terror threat, they analyze any possible scenario through which the latter could happen and come up with stringent security measures that neutralize the latter with minimal or no damage at all. After the 11th September 2001 attack and the increased risk of the aviation sector in terms of being prone to attack in addition to other vulnerabilities, the Congressional Research Service (2008) points out that the Norfolk airport TSA has identified some practical potential security breaches, which they use to minimize the security threats in their airport.
Nixon (2013) further cites that the Norfolk airport TSA team works closely with aviation training schools and advises the trainer to identify any non-US residents seeking to be enrolled. He observes that the need for the latter is for TSA to screen the person’s background for any suspicious motive that could cause a security threat to their airlines. They also work closely with the FAA and might, upon identifying any national security threat, advise the FAA to revoke a pilot’s license or refuse to issue one based on the security protocol (Nixon, 2013). In case an aircraft operator requests access or has been found in a restricted area without due authorization, according to Carey (2013), TSA screens such an attendant for any potential security threat that may disgrace the prestigious Norfolk International Airport credibility.
The Congressional Research Service (2008) points out that TSA screens all flight school operators from where the Norfolk airport employs its pilots; it screens its heavy flight operators as well as private aircrafts operations to determine that none would inflict any security threat in their airport or in their aircrafts. TSA implements the Norfolk’s airport tailor-made security systems and other operations risk-based programs, as well as thorough screening of all passengers both checking in and leaving the Norfolk airport. TSA also faces some serious challenges in their line of duty since some passengers or airport personnel might deem some of their strict security screening measures as harassment. They further observe that since they lack specialized training, sometimes they rely on the outside help to contain some situations, which at times might be late to obtain and as a result cause great danger in a situation that would have been averted if they had received specialized training.
Federal Marshals, K-9 Explosive Ordnance Disposal
According to the Congressional Research Service (2008), these two special units respond to distress call to handle serious security situations that pose a great danger to the national security. The federal marshals, K-9 are used when there is a serious security breach in the Norfolk airport and if TSA and homeland security have identified a dangerous criminal, drug trafficker, or terrorist who might be in possession of an explosive (Federal Aviation Administration, 2013). They are not always situated within the Norfolk airport on a daily basis or on their aircrafts, but might be asked for their specialized skills in any of the scenarios mentioned above. In a scenario when TSA has no credible evidence, but is suspecting the possibility of a terrorist attack on their aircraft, they might request for a federal marshal to be enlisted amongst the passengers for the purpose of possible further verification of claims on a particular suspect or in case of an incident during the flight, they may contain the situation. They may as well be used to fly a dangerous criminal to his or her destination as the Federal Aviation Administration (2013) asserts, following their specialized training in disarming such people without much damage being done.
The EOD are also not a part of the Norfolk airport daily security forces. According to Hughes (2012), they respond to emergency security cases with specialized equipment that they use to diffuse the bombs planted in an area. Powers (2013) observes that their role is to assess the situation both at a close and distant range in order to determine the condition of the weapon of threat so that they may offer precise evacuation advice based on their discovery. Such measure may extend to cancellation of all flights within the Norfolk airport in accordance with the FAA security measures. They also use specialized equipment to investigate unknown weaponry elements to know how to handle it and to detect possible contamination of the weapon for dangerous toxic or nuclear materials. Apart from identifying and disarming or containing a dangerous security situation in an airport, Carey (2013) observes that they also transport the disarmed explosives as well as other weapons of mass destruction to their containments for further examination and proper disposal.
Hughes (2012) observes that the EOD employ their advanced computer skills to support flight activities in case the airport’s transmission equipment has been compromised. In case of a terror attack, they use their personal protective equipment and other remote controlled equipment to identify, disarm, and dispose of weapons in landing and drop zones, as well as on airfields. Hughes (2012) further observes that the EOD are also entrusted with the responsibility of disposing of the remains of weapons transporting aircrafts in case of a crash.
Department of Homeland Security
According to Cole (2002), the Department of Homeland Security holds a collective responsibility of ensuring the safety of not only the land, but also the seas both internally and externally. Considering its vast responsibilities of regulating various security agencies within the USA, Cole (2002) cites that the DHS might play a more regulatory responsibility upon the Norfolk International Airport’s security agencies. Cole (2002) further observes that most security agencies within the Norfolk airport are accountable to the DHS in the long run, thus accrediting the fact that the DHS plays an oversight role. By having the counter terrorism unit, anti-narcotic unit amongst other special units, Carey (2013) asserts that the DHS provides the Norfolk International Airport has enough intelligence to take security measures to ensure safe flights as well as the national security.
The Norfolk International Airport is the third largest airport in Virginia and is in the top seventy busiest airports in the world. Its security details are critical not only to retain its status, but also to ensure safety of its clients and the national security in general. Thus, various security players must be thorough in their lines of duty with the FAA ensuring secure aircrafts, competent operations personnel, as well as proper environmental regulations. TSA, K-9, the EOD, and the DHS must also work together to ensure the security safety of the Norfolk International Airport in order to concurrently achieve their common goal, which is the airport’s safety and safe flights.
From the discussion, it is evident that TSA is committed to the provision of excellent security personnel at the Norfolk International Airport. It does this through proper training and attractive remuneration of the entire workforce. TSA is totally committed to securing the Norfolk International Airport through adoption of the standard security protocols.