On Saturday morning I was departing LAX terminal 7, and while waiting in line for my ID to be checked, two of the TSA’s wonderful behavior detection “officers” were making their way through the line. For those of you not familiar with the concept, here’s a description of the program from TSA blogger Bob:
Behavior analysis is based on the fear of being discovered. People who are trying to get away with something display signs of stress through involuntary physical and physiological behaviors. Whether someone’s trying to sneak through that excellent stone ground mustard they bought on vacation, a knife, or a bomb, behavior detection officers like me are trained to spot certain suspicious behaviors out of the crowd. Once we make our determination, we refer these passengers for additional screening or directly to law enforcement.
What does this really mean? Two guys who are qualified for the job simply because they don’t have a felony on their record take a half day course on spotting suspicious behavior and are thereby qualified to act as some sort of brilliant psychologist to determine when someone’s behavior is “suspicious.” In other words, as usual, our taxpayer dollars are being wasted. Instead of firing during a recession where air travel is down, the TSA instead chooses to make more work.
So what does this mean in practice? The “officer” asks the guy in front of me what the scissor symbol on his blazer represents. He asks me what my shirt means. I simply responded with “I don’t think that has anything to do with security,” and was quickly left alone. Boy, guess I got past him, since I had a bottle of water in my bag with at least four ounces in it. Who knows what I could have done with that!
So if you run into these idiots, don’t engage them. And if you feel like it, act nervous, bite your lips, and sweat profusely.
By the way, just to clarify, I wouldn’t be opposed to such a program if there were actually skilled behavior detection officers doing this, as opposed to unqualified people that have about three hours of job training.