House Republicans look to ‘strip’ TSA screeners of their ‘officer’ title

More than two dozen House Republicans introduced legislation on Thursday that would prevent the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) from calling airport screeners "officer" unless they have gone through federal law enforcement training or are otherwise eligible for federal law enforcement benefits.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the lead sponsor of the Stop TSA's Reach in Policy (STRIP) Act, said that TSA has essentially allowed its airport screeners to play dress-up by giving them metal badges and police-like uniforms in recent years. But she said many airport screeners have no "officer" qualifications, and should have this title removed.

She also said giving airport screeners police-like uniforms has led to problems. She said in New Jersey, a screener was arrested for impersonating an officer, and a Virginia woman was raped by a screener after he approached her showing his TSA badge.

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"It is outrageous that in a post-9/11 world ... the American people should have to live in fear of those whose job it is to keep us safe," Blackburn said. "Congress has sat idly by as the TSA strip-searches 85-year-old grandmothers in New York, pats down 3-year-olds in Chattanooga and checks colostomy bags for explosives in Orlando.

"Enough is enough!" she added. "The least we can do is end this impersonation, which is an insult to real cops."

The bill, H.R. 3608, has 25 Republican co-sponsors, including House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.).