September 12, 2008

TSA Officers Get Police-Like Uniforms


On the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that prompted its creation, the Transportation Security Administration yesterday unveiled new uniforms and badges designed to give its officers a more official and authoritative look as they screen airport travelers and baggage.

Transportation security officers at Logan International Airport and other airports nationwide are now wearing dark blue shirts and gold metal badges in place of white shirts with embroidered patches.

The change was made in response to officers' concerns about their old uniform's durability, the respect they receive on the job and their confidence filling those roles. It puts their dress more on par with other Department of Homeland Security positions, according to the TSA.

"They wanted a better quality uniform that would hold up better over the long term, and they wanted something that looked better," said George Naccara, TSA security director for Logan. "They also wanted something that was a little more professional. It is much more of a typical type of uniform for a front-line officer."

The uniforms are part of the TSA's "checkpoint evolution" effort to promote calmer airport checkpoint areas and improve security.

When travelers get upset with airport screening, they tend to take it out on the TSA workers, according to Naccara. But their attitudes generally change when law enforcement officials arrive on the scene, he said.

The new poly-cotton blend short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts are designed to stay cleaner and be more comfortable. Updates also include new shoulder boards with silver lettering to match other accessories, new nametags that list officers' last names and ranks, a higher-quality tie and a wider belt to ensure a better fitting for new sturdier pants, which have a stripe down their sides.

The TSA deliberately timed the uniform's debut with the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks that resulted in the federalization of airport security.

"It's a tough day, while some of us remember what happened that day very clearly," Naccara said. "But, on the other hand, it's a day where TSOs are standing proud."

CAPTION: BEFORE AND AFTER: TSA officials used to wear white shirts, as seen in the file photo at left, but now wear blue shirts and badges. STAFF PHOTOS BY MARK GARFINKEL

Originally published by By DONNA GOODISON.

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