New TSA chief sworn in

 New TSA chief sworn in
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The Transportation Security Administration officially has a new leader.

David Pekoske was sworn in as TSA administrator on Thursday, one week after he was unanimously approved by the Senate. The agency’s former chief, Peter Neffenger, departed the agency on Jan. 20 following President Trump’s inauguration.

Pekoske is a former vice commandant for the U.S. Coast Guard, where he was second-in-command and chief operating officer. Prior to that, he was commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Forces West.

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He will now lead a workforce of approximately 60,000 employees and oversee the security operations at nearly 450 airports throughout the U.S., as well as highways, railroads, ports, mass transit systems and pipelines.

“I am deeply honored to take on this role as the next TSA administrator and put my experience to use in protecting and securing our nation’s transportation system,” Pekoske said in a statement.

“TSA’s mission is critical to the security of our homeland and the American people. I look forward to continue serving our great nation alongside the dedicated men and women of TSA.”

Pekoske will be stepping into the role at a critical time for the TSA, which has been tasked with ramping up security amid a heightened threat to aviation.

The Homeland Security Department has implemented a new security plan that all international flights must follow if they want to avoid a ban on laptops in the flight cabin. And the TSA announced tougher screening protocols for carry-on bags at all airports in the U.S.

In recent years, the TSA has also struggled to deal with massive airport lines, high-profile security lapses, low morale at the agency and high turnover rates. Pekoske said during his confirmation hearing that he hopes to improve employee morale as TSA chief.