The Transport Security Administration (TSA) does not give airports a pass or failing report during their security checks. What they do is partner with airport authorities to assess areas of weakness in their security systems.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves shared this information during a press conference on Monday at Cabinet Room, while discussing a visit by the TSA to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) from March 7 to 9 to conduct a security assessment on the recently opened Argyle International Airport.
Gonsalves said during their visit, the TSA examined the security aspects of the aerodrome, the perimeter fence, the cargo and passenger terminals.
He said before leaving, the TSA held talks with security personnel and airport management as well as a debriefing with Director of Airports Corsel Roberts which was deemed âquite positiveâ.
The Prime Minister said the TSA indicated that their report on the AIA should be ready in about 45 days.
âThere were some simple things that they told them about, which, within the week after they have left, they had put in place and there were other things which they were talking about, they are addressing. But the response which they gave was generally quite positive,â he explained.
Giving examples of areas for improvemenet, Gonsalves said there were two police officers stationed at the entrance of the airport, however when the TSA agents arrived one of the police officers was sitting in the cafeteria speaking to someone. In another instance, a cellular phone was left by someone and while there was nothing on the phone, it should have been taken to particular centre immediately.
The Prime Minister said all security personnel at the AIA have been involved in training and are doing additional training, with those who do not make the passing grade being given a second chance to do so.
âThere is lots of training going on and it is good that TSA came at the time so that they can see… the training which we are doing at an ongoing basis,â Gonsalves noted.
The Prime Minister noted that during the visit of the TSA, there were about 90 security officers at the AIA. He said while the optimal number of security officers is 105, the job can be done by 90.
Gonsalves stated that during their visit, the TSA commended the security for their handling of an incident at a security check point.
The Prime Minister explained that a passenger was sent back after an alarm went off as he was going through security. Although the passenger was reluctant, he went back without causing a scene. However, according to the Prime Minister, as this was taking place, a member of the passengerâs party began taking photographs which he assumed were for social media.
âThere was no sign up in that area saying no photographs allowedâ¦ so that sign should be up. I am talking these sorts of things to give a flavour of the extent to which everybody has to deal with security,â he pointed out.
The Prime Minster pointed out that these were the initial reports which he received.
He also indicated that the TSA has conducted assessments at seaports and at the ET Joshua airport in the past. (CM)