New York, New Jersey Airports Threaten To Ditch TSA, Hire Own Security Screeners

Image courtesy of Ben Popken

The fight over long lines at security checkpoints got a bit more intense late Monday, as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey threatened to hire its own security staff to replace Transportation Security Administration screeners unless something is done to combat excessive wait times. 

The Port Authority issued the ultimatum in a letter to the TSA, noting that if passengers don’t start getting through security at JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty airports faster it will hire a private security company to do the job, WABC-TV reports.

“We can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of TSA passenger screening services,” the letter states, adding that, “long waits are prompting complaints from passengers, terminal operators, and airlines alike.”

The TSA, which previously promised it would to employ a number of measures to cut down on those excessive wait times, said it was doing the best it could and would address the Port Authority’s concerns directly.

“The TSA’s primary focus is the current threat environment as the American transportation system remains a high value target for terrorists,” the agency said in a statement.

Measures TSA said it would implement include increasing staff at checkpoints and asking Congress for more money to pay for security officers’ overtime as well as cover “critical short-term needs.”

Travel experts tell WABC-TV that private security employees taking over screening could be more efficient for airports.

“Privatizing it would hold the people who are selected to be the screeners more accountable. It would cost the federal government infinitely less, and it would make the process a lot more streamlined and seamless,” Manny Gomez, a security expert, says.

The use of private security companies is not unheard of. More than 20 airports currently use non-TSA screeners.

Port Authority calls for private company to handle security if TSA doesn’t improve [WABC-TV]