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Josh-D. S. Davis

Xaminmo / Omnimax / Max Omni / Mad Scientist / Midnight Shadow / Radiation Master

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Letter to TSA
Josh 201604 KWP
Here's what I wrote to the TSA contact at DHS.
To whom it may concern:
PR is everything, and it is an important part of every job position in an organization or agency as publicly facing as the TSA. Yes, we want to be secure, but the TSA has poor PR when it comes to consistency, choice of procedures, and overall execution of the customer-facing duties. Because the TSA is operating in a very sensitive area, and attempting to expand search effectiveness, traveler (customer) sensitivity needs to be key. I'm sure by now you've notices that a very small number of poorly handled situations at screening checkpoints have bloomed into large public dissatisfaction with TSA as a whole.

Excluding any of the issues in the media, I can still draw upon my own experiences. I've had very inconsistent reactions to carry-on liquids. I've had an agent sneer and yell at me to "not walk like a penguin." When asked for explanation on any of these issues, answers were nor forthcoming. Supervisors did not want to be involved. The situations were easier to just throw acceptable items away (bar of soap under 3 oz, etc). Requests to the TSA office were received, but never followed up on, so I stopped filing requests and just try to "stay out of their way."

I don't like being intimidated at my workplace, and as a travelling businessman, the airport is one of my workplaces. As a private pilot, I see how much of what is presented to the public leans away from accuracy and truth because it's easier. All of this combined comes across as untrustworthy. When people cannot trust the protectors, we are all more unsafe. Further, I would argue that it expands the police-state mentality and could potentially have a negative impact on national commerce.

As a regular business traveler, and a loyal citizen, I do not feel that it's acceptable for public transportation security to offer only the choices of:
A) Be strip searched (even electronically)
B) Be frisked
C) Go away

As the same, I should not be intimidated into changing my gait. I should be politely asked about it, and politely sent through. If an agent is having a bad day, they should not be customer facing. If an agent is having a bad month, then maybe they're not fit.

When I consider the number of flights I've had, vs the incidents, it's 3 or 4 incidents of poor customer service over 400+ flights in the last 5 years. That may seem like a good track record, but it's important to account for how powerful the event is. When someone is made to feel threatened or humiliated just once, that carries more weight than hundreds of uneventful days. It's how memory works. Emotions make memories more powerful.

This can be seen in the media, playing up an equally small number of bad situations, and legislation attempts which would blindly cripple the TSA, all because of the emotional component which is not being properly handled.

I would like to propose:
* More rigorous screening of your screeners on the basis of psychological profile and general personality.
* Better consistency training on a recurrent basis should be structured to ensure no surprises when we get to the airport.
* Regular, external evaluations of performance of public-facing employees, secret-shopper style.
* A better PR team to help limit media exaggerations of negative situations, and publicly address customer satisfaction issues.
* Determine the level of security vs personal privacy that the travelling public and shipping businesses expect, and meet that rather than an ideal standard.
* Ensure that complaints and reports are entered into a tracking system with follow up and resolution metrics.

Thanks for your time, and good luck.

With friendly regards,
Josh-Daniel S. Davis