While at work today, the common question from passengers seemed to be "Is all of this security really necessary?"
When posed with such questions I start to think in depth about the different aspects of my job, and what the organization I work for tries to accomplish. First and foremost before I begin, I have to admit that I do not believe that TSA is without it's faults. I do, however, feel that TSA is doing a much better service than the private companies provided. Also, with the evolving threat, I believe TSA is doing a decent job of keeping its employees informed and trained to provide a proactive screening environment.
Back to the original question though, I believe that TSA is an evolution of sorts that has come around because of the ever evolving terrorist threat. When I say evolving terrorist threat, I don't mean just the terrorist groups like Al Queda, I refer to the home-grown extremists who sympathize with terrorist group causes or create their own missions. The extremist group that was just taken down in Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan are the types I'm talking about. The entire law enforcement community is keeping a close watch on newly forming and existing groups because of the compounding threat they pose to the peaceful public.
I think TSA gets a lot of flak from the public because they don't discriminate with their screening process and they are still a young agency buffing out the finer details to their procedures. Everyone regardless of race, religion, age, sex, sexuality, etc. gets patted down and searched the same as the next person. I think some people feel like TSA treats everyone like a terrorist instead of like a fine upstanding citizen. Unfortunately, the people that think this way have come across some of the less customer service friendly officers.
To me, the TSA is necessary because no one else was stepping up to fill the holes that caused 9/11. The private security company became too relaxed, and even though they received multiple fines from the FAA every time they let a prohibited item through the checkpoint, it doesn't seem like they did much to step things up. The TSA seems much more organized and willing to be held accountable for it's actions. If someone by chance loses focus and let's something pass, that officer has to undergo training and guidance to make sure it never happens again.
"The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce."
I like this mission statement because it gives me the vision of an ideal security checkpoint. A passenger comes through and receives fast, accurate, and thorough screening and hopefully the experience yields one of two scenarios. One being that the impact of going through a TSA checkpoint is so small that after the passenger is finished they forget it even happened. The other case being that the customer service was so great that the passenger is actually happy about TSA's presence and leaves having enjoyed the quick process. I know it isn't always possible, but most of us are trying for at least one of these two goals.
So when asked why I believe the TSA is necessary, I respond with another question.
"Who else is going to make sure you get safely from point A to point B?"