NJ baggage screeners suspended; sleeping an issue
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration is pursuing disciplinary action against six baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport, including some suspected of sleeping during their shifts, the agency confirmed Tuesday.
The employees have been cited for alleged failure to follow procedures and have been suspended from screening duties while the cases proceed. TSA employees have the right to appeal any disciplinary action.
Officials also confirmed Tuesday that another baggage screener at Newark, one of the nation's busiest airports, is facing possible dismissal for allegedly failing on Dec. 22 to adequately check two bags that raised concerns, causing two planeloads of luggage to be rescreened.
The union representing screeners told The Associated Press it cannot comment on ongoing cases.
TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the agency, whose mission is to safeguard the nation's transportation systems, uses a variety of measures to ensure procedures are followed, including random inspections, covert tests and video surveillance.
At New York City's LaGuardia Airport, an apparent lack of communication between baggage screeners was responsible for a security scare this week.
Officials said a screener spotted a suspicious-looking item in a carry-on bag, tested it for explosives and found it did not pose a threat. It was determined to be a homeopathic medical device that could be mistaken for pipe bombs.
When workers on the next shift saw the item, they couldn't figure out what it was — and called the bomb squad.
The TSA said in a statement that because of the item's appearance it wasn't allowed through the checkpoint and the owner surrendered it voluntarily. The agency said the Port Authority bomb squad was called "out of an abundance of caution."