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A Day In The Life Of: Transportation Security Inspectors (TSI)

A Day In The Life Of: Transportation Security Inspectors (TSI)

TSA Evolution of Security Blog | Guest Blogger Jim

March 10, 2009

In an effort to explain the many different positions we have in the field, I’ve asked a Transportation Security Inspector (TSI) from Cincinnati to talk a little about his position.

Jim is from the Aviation side of Inspections, so keep in mind that TSA has a cadre of inspectors in the field. We’ll highlight their jobs in the future as well.

Now, the next time you see the folks in the fancy “TSA Inspector” jackets, you’ll know what they do. ~ Bob

When most people think about TSA, the dedicated men and women performing the duties of the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) come to mind; and why not? It is by far the most visible public component of TSA and usually the first thing we see as we approach the checkpoint. Much like the many layers that make up TSA’s security “system of systems”, other components of TSA are tasked with duties not so visible to the traveling public, but are just as fundamental to securing our nation’s transport systems. Today I will discuss one of those components…TSA’s Transportation Security Inspectors, or TSIs.

As with most things governmental, regulations abound! Especially with respect to airline operations, airport operations and the wide variety of security programs that these entities adopt and implement. That’s where the TSI comes in. I’m an aviation inspector, so I’ll refrain from commentary on the cargo inspection program or the surface (rail and mass transit) inspection program. The duties and responsibilities of a TSI are quite varied due in no small part to an industry that can be complex, market driven, evolving and critical to our nation’s economy. Bear with me as I reach deep into my mind-numbing facts hat and reference the actual regulations that drive what TSIs actually inspect. Our beloved Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) has many titles and parts, but for the aviation TSI, it’s all about 49 CFR part 1500 and the relevant subchapters. Within that body of work, those who find themselves regulated by TSA will know what is expected of them as well as what can be expected from us. If you find yourself unable to sleep on a given night, look them up on the web at under the executive resources portion.

So, what does it all mean? TSIs in the field conduct comprehensive inspections, assessments and investigations of regulated entities to determine how well they comply with the regulations as well as identifying areas of weakness that need to be fixed. Exactly how is it done? Well, TSIs will use a variety of methods to determine compliance which may include surveillance, interview, document review and/or testing. But it doesn’t end there. Those findings are archived so we can get a snapshot of trouble areas that are common and adjust our security priorities to meet those needs.

In addition to our normal inspection workload, TSIs conduct investigations into alleged violations of security regulations at the screening checkpoint. Normally this would be the result of a person attempting to bring something prohibited through the screening checkpoint – things like guns, explosives and incendiaries. On occasion, and it doesn’t happen all too often, someone will cause a fracas at the checkpoint that rises to level of interference with the screening process. When that happens, the TSI will investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged violation and determine what enforcement action is appropriate. An enforcement action may be administrative in nature (warning notice), or result in a monetary fine (civil penalty). However, if the investigation demonstrates that no violation occurred, the matter will be closed with no action and a letter advising the person of that determination will be mailed out. I could go on and on regarding enforcement actions because those can be thorny and it doesn’t simply end with a fine because the TSI recommends it. There is a process and I will defer to our legal team regarding the steps that it entails.

Lastly, TSIs conduct outreach activity with our industry partners and local/Federal agencies in order to foster that open relationship and share information critical to our mutual success. There is more to a TSI’s job than what I have written about today, but my post is getting long so I’ll wrap it up. Perhaps I can post another time with some more riveting TSI tidings. Until then, travel safe and thanks for checking out our blog!

See the original post at the TSA blog here.

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    over 5 years ago


    Sorry about the typos in my a hurry!

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    over 5 years ago


    Well said Jim...I too am a TSI but I do cargo! I am at ORD and I love it! By the way, because this article was posted under security clearence...TSI's have to obtain a "secret" clearence. This is aboce and beyond the background I recieved when I first hired on with TSA almost 7 years ago.

    For those of you who may be interested in becoming a TSI, it is not impossible. But I do reccomend first becoming a Transportation Security Officer. Get to know some of the local inspectors then start applying. We do have posistions open all the time, but they are very, very competative! But well worth the effort. The pay is good, the work environement is great...we work with some very bright people. You can branch off in many directions including international or K-9.

    Good luck to you folks. It's a great job.

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    Are there any TSA positions available at the airport in Columbia SC? How do you go about applying for the position? Thanks Darlene

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