New airport security screeners make arrival

Laura Sturza

When the Transportation Security Administration takes charge

Tuesday of screening all passengers and bags at

Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport, it will be the first airport to do

so in Southern California.

While transitioning from a contracted staff to a federal one,

Burbank Federal Security Director Madelyn Sawyer intends to provide

passengers with excellent customer service.

"From the moment you walk up to the checkpoint to the time that

you board the aircraft, we want it to be friendly," Sawyer said.

"The ultimate goal is, from the time you put your bag on the belt,

we want you in and out in 10 minutes."

When Las Vegas made the transition Sept. 17, Sawyer was there to

ask passengers about the experience.

"I didn't have one complaint, they were very pleased," Sawyer

said.

But Sawyer also stresses that the job's essential function is as

an airport's "first line of defense."

"They play a very, very significant role in the security at the

airport," Sawyer said.

In taking charge of screening at the nation's airports, the scope

of hands-on customer service provided by the federal government is

unprecedented, Burbank TSA customer service representative Jim

Dennison said.

Along with being U.S. citizens and high school graduates, the

Burbank screeners will have also passed 14 hours of employment exams

that include aptitude testing, a criminal background check and

medical exams. After passing these tests, new recruits entered into

extensive training, Sawyer said.

Screeners who have worked at the airport as contracted employees

will leave their posts Monday. For those who qualify, it will be a

temporary leave while they receive the same training as the new

staff. They are guaranteed jobs, but they must pass the training,

Sawyer said.

"They have a lot of expertise, and we certainly want to tap into

that," Sawyer said.

Screeners are still being recruited for Burbank and other airports

nationwide. To apply, call toll-free (877) 631-5627 or go to

www.tsa.dot.gov.

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