Nov 21, 2010 8:34 PM by Matt Stafford

Springs councilman considering dropping T.S.A. from airport

Heading into the holiday weekend, airline travelers are concerned about security.

Photos in the Denver Post this week showed some invasive screening. Also the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, told a Sunday morning news talk show that enhanced security pat-downs, that have received criticism, are here to stay.

City Councilman Sean Paige says he hears local travel concerns, and wants to look into making changes; like opting out of the controversial full body scans other airports have started, and possibly T.S.A. altogether.

"If we can get that with T.S.A., fine; if we have to go elsewhere, to private contractors, I'm certainly open to talking about it," explains Councilman Paige.

Airports are able to opt-out of using T.S.A. screeners through the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. T.S.A. set up the Screening Partnership Program in 2004, so that airports can lose the T.S.A. screener for ones from a private company.

"We're a city owned airport, so if we can't ask these questions then who can?" asks Paige.

During the opting-out process, T.S.A. would pick the private company from applicants, and they winning bid would have to meet federal regulations. T.S.A. keeps staff at the airport; overseeing the screening process and making sure all rules are met.

16 airports have already made the switch.

"You have to follow the guidelines, but it's also sometimes the attitude of how you go about doing it," explains Paige. He's looking for better customer service and passenger treatment during screening.

However, opting-out of T.S.A. might not work for meeting Paige's objectives. T.S.A. says on their website that in some instances, former T.S.A. workers would be helped with getting hired by the new screening company.

Passengers News first 5 spoke to were mixed on the idea of privatized security.

"People will be arguing whose turf it is and everything else," says Paul Chapman.

"I think it would probably be more efficient in many respects if it was privatized," explains Stewart Hayes.

However, regardless whose doing the screening, everyone wants to be safe.

"Since 9/11, we need something," says Marge Pressler.

Paige says the need for changes isn't exactly pressing, but for many, the process is frustrating. He wants to bring up the topic during city council meetings on Monday.

Calls to T.S.A. and the Colorado Springs Airport's administration for this story weren't returned.

For more information on the Transportation Security Administration's Screening Partnership Program, click here.


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