Pilots Security Group Supports Air Marshals in Changing Operating Rules

Homeland Security officials characterize problems in the Federal Air Marshal program as ‘growing pains,’ but pilots say the problems are caused by an entrenched bureaucracy that puts marshals and the public at risk.

(PRWEB) August 19, 2004 -- The Airline Pilots Security Alliance (APSA) offered its strong support today for efforts to change dangerous operating practices imposed on federal air marshals by program administrators. Federal Air Marshals have complained that current dress code and boarding procedures, as well as bureaucratic rules, make them obvious to passengers and terrorists and compromise airline security. “The dress requirement is just one more example of career bureaucrats ignoring the pleas of frontline operators,” said APSA spokesperson Brian Darling. “The biggest advantage the air marshal program gives us is terrorists not knowing whether marshals are onboard. If you dress them right out of ‘Men in Black,’ we’ve lost that element of surprise.”

Homeland Security officials have attempted to characterize problems in the Federal Air Marshal program as ‘growing pains,’ but APSA says the problems are caused by an entrenched bureaucracy that puts marshals and the public at risk. “They’re focusing on form over function,” said pilot Rob Sproc, APSA Vice President. “A lot of these managers have been off the frontlines too long. At some point, someone’s got to shake them and say, ‘Another airplane is going to hit a building!’

In April, air marshal service director Tom Quinn wrote an internal memo trying to coordinate a DHS lobbying effort against a bill to strengthen the armed pilots program. Among Quinn’s complaints: pilots were not trained to execute search warrants, interview suspects or testify in court. Quinn is also responsible for implementing the controversial air marshal dress code. “I don’t think anyone expects Al Qaeda to come aboard wearing long robes and burkas,” commented Darling. If the terrorists understand the need to blend in, why doesn’t the Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service?”

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2004/8/prweb150317.htm