Ron Martinelli, Ph.D.
Forensic Criminologist/Police & Security Expert
Copyright (C) 11-18-16
Like President-Elect Donald Trump, I am assertive and tenacious in my desire to Make America Great Again. And like the President-Elect and millions of other traveling Americans, I have watched as my country has languished behind other not so great countries since 9-11 in national security. Our national security infrastructure is in shambles and no amount of Democratic surrogate “spin” propaganda will make our traveling citizens feel otherwise.
I have been a law enforcement professional, a security professional and a businessman for over 30 years. My private practice has a national footprint that causes me to travel nationally and internationally between eight to fourteen thousand miles a month; mostly on aircraft. I spend a great deal of my travel time in airport terminals and like you, am an unwilling hostage to the incompetence of our nation’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Let’s face it, the TSA as an over 50,000-member national security force and administration, “sucks.” To borrow a phrase from another incompetent President; the agency is most definitely in a perpetual state of “malaise.” Fifteen years after the horrors of 9-11, our outgoing President and his Homeland Security Secretary government bureaucrat Jeh Johnson simply don’t “get it.” Now that President-elect Trump will be taking the reins of the Presidency; it is finally time for a change in the way we look at and engage in the business of travel security throughout this nation.
To be quite candid and forward President-elect Trump; I’m the man for the job of fixing what is wrong with the TSA. Like you, I’m doing just fine as a successful businessman. I really didn’t want and certainly don’t need the job. However, I feel compelled to volunteer for the TSA Director job to help fix what is seriously wrong here. I am completely willing to sacrifice my business and take the pay cut to help ensure our nation’s travel security, so that my fellow Americans can travel more expeditiously; with a minimum of inconvenience and a maximum of personal security.
As I write this blatantly biased job application, I sit in the Rochester, NY air terminal waiting for my flight back to California. I have yet again experienced and witnessed more TSA incompetence as have many of my fellow travelers who are flying out to all parts of our country today. I watched at least eight TSA “officers” (they are all actually civilians with NO peace officer powers, dressed up to look like officers) standing around doing nothing while a line was backing up when there were two metal detectors and body scanners unmanned. I then watched three TSA officers spend ten minutes in the TSA Pre-Screen line with a 75-year-old grandma; refusing to pass her through a metal detector because she could not remove a small silver bracelet from her wrist with her arthritic hands. This fiasco backed up the security line even more. No supervisors in sight; no leadership; no direction; no common sense; zero customer service. A textbook example of a federal bureaucracy, union-oriented, “I could care less about the traveling public” mindset. Believe me, I have seen far worse and constantly.
As I’m sure you know President-elect Trump, you get what you pay for and when you are paying people $12/hour and have some of the lowest training standards around; that’s exactly what we Americans get. Mediocre in and mediocre out. That’s the endemic problem with American government today. When you lower expectations and settle for less; you get less.
Americans should never settle for less when it comes to national security. There are just too many people out there who have made it their life’s mission to kill us. I don’t know about you, but I am unwilling to risk my life and those of my family on the mediocre mentality and work ethic of a $12/hour, low trained, indifferent security guard dressed in a pretty “wannabe a cop” uniform.
So how would I change things at TSA? Here’s a few changes I would make.
- Get rid of those law enforcement looking uniforms. Let’s not “play” peace officers; let’s HAVE peace officers handling our national travel security. There are literally tens of thousands of highly skilled retired peace officers in this country who are used to working with the public who are thoroughly versed in suspicious behavior, laws of arrest, search and seizure and criminal profiling.
We need well trained professionals with common sense; a high sense of ethics and good work habits as our nation’s security eyes and ears. Keep in mind that in the fifteen years the TSA has been in existence, they have made zero arrests of terrorists; yet hundreds of TSA “officers” have been arrested for thefts from luggage. To date, I have lost a new watch, a tablet and an e-book to these “luggage searchers.” It might also interest the reader to know that nearly 80 TSA workers have been found to be on our nation’s Terrorist Watch List with ties to terrorists. Do you feel less secure now? I sure do.
- Get rid of worthless, politically correct, cookie cutter, ethnic-based and/or arbitrary statistics-based security checks of travelers at security points. Instead, we need to adopt the Israeli criminal and terrorist behavioral profile model to stop/detain and search travelers in terminals. Put an end to searching elderly grandmas for weapons and explosives. We already know the profile and behaviors of terrorists and it’s not grandma. Quit wasting time, resources and our money with this stupid and pointless endeavor and concentrate on the obvious.
Remember that there is a big difference between racial and behavioral profiling. We need to focus our energy and resources in a much more productive and proactive security model; instead of the current useless reactive “PC” security model currently in place.
Plainclothes peace officers specially trained in the Israeli criminal/terrorist behavioral profile model should be in terminals physically and electronically surveilling all people in airport terminals for evidence of suspicious behavior. It is important to stop/detain, investigate and seriously search suspicious travelers before they get into a crowded airport or to a security check point. Again, the basis of any search and detention is the ability to articulate “reasonable suspicion” and/or “probable cause” for that detention.
3. Expedite the process of clearing vetted American citizens through security checkpoints. Fifteen years after 9-11, TSA continues to have one of the most archaic, 2nd World security clearance systems in the world. Even Mexico has a better and faster system of vetting travelers statistically with the arbitrary “Verde-Roja” system, than the United States.
I just returned from Europe and was impressed to see how professional, technologically advanced and efficient security was handled at the Amsterdam International Airport. No uniformed security personnel except for national police; highly efficient automated security scans of luggage; courteous service; and an expedited movement of travelers. The country even had retinal scans for Dutch nationals. While approaching the security checkpoint, I witnessed police stop/detain and search two travelers who I had also identified as acting suspicious at the time. Now that’s a progressive security model I would like to see employed here.
My advice to expedite American travelers through checkpoints? Simple. Millions of Americans have already gone through a vetting process sufficient to pass through a simple metal detector with luggage X-ray scan. Military personnel, current and retired law enforcement officers and First Responders; federal and state government personnel; citizens who have concealed carry weapon permits; citizens who have government security clearances; vetted retired military personnel, etc. have already been vetted sufficiently to be authorized to pass through a security checkpoint. Use a biometric national ID travel card for these people; networked with our current U.S. Passport computer database to create a quick “Pre-screen” system for them. Think about optional retinal scanning to make traveler identification even faster.
For all other American citizens, enhance the current TSA Pre-screen ID system. The current bureaucracy of pre-screening is overly cumbersome and inconvenient for most travelers; especially busy working professionals. TSA currently forces travelers seeking TSA pre-screening status to visit their processing centers which are always far away from airports and only open on week days, during business hours. What?! Apparently, no one at TSA has ever figured out that the majority of travelers have both their ID’s and a lot of down time at airports waiting for flights. Yet, TSA hasn’t bothered to put their pre-screen processing centers there with an open 24/7 schedule. Go figure. That’s government thinking for you and that’s the type of all about them thinking we can ill-afford to have anymore.
Notice I only said American citizen travelers? That’s right. Non-citizen travelers should be subjected to a thorough screening process since we know nothing about them. Just like President-elect Trump, I believe in America First.
- Phase out the current TSA security officer system and transition to a smarter, experienced, proactive mindset peace officer and technologically efficient system as described above. If we do this, we can reduce manpower, significantly increase efficiency and the secure movement of travelers through airports and reduce costs.
Mr. President-elect, with you now in power supported by the Senate and Congress; there are few things that cannot be accomplished in this country to make it better. National security and the movement of travelers throughout our nation needs to be a priority. The reactive, problematic, archaic mindset of previous administrations must be discarded and replaced with a more business-oriented, customer-friendly proactive, common sense national security model that more expeditiously moves vetted American travelers through our nation’s airports in a safe and effective manner, while safe-guarding our national security interests. If you agree with me, please pass this column on so it becomes viral. Maybe President Trump will read it and give me a call. My bags are packed!
Make America Great Again!
About the Author
Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and police/security expert with 40 years of experience as a police officer, detective and expert consultant. Dr. Martinelli experts for several State Attorney General Offices and major metropolitan cities. His forensic/law enforcement site is found at: www.DrRonMartinelli.com.