Local TSA director leaves post at airport

Laura Sturza

After meeting the federal deadline last month for security changes

at Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport, the airport’s Federal Security

Director Madelyn Sawyer has left her post, less than five months


after her appointment.

The departing director was instrumental in overseeing the

transition from contracted to federal baggage screeners, and for

building a cooperative relationship between the Airport Authority and


the Transportation Security Administration, said Mike Post, the

Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport security chief.

Luz Ponce, Burbank’s assistant federal security director for

regulations, takes over Sawyer’s post today on an interim basis until

a permanent director is appointed Feb. 1. Ponce said she has applied

for the job.

“I’ll be working first and foremost to ensure that the security

posture of the airport continues,” Ponce said of her goal for the two


weeks she will be in the position.

During Sawyer’s tenure, she oversaw the hiring and training of

more than 200 federal screeners, and met federal deadlines for

screening all checked bags by Dec. 31. In addition, her staff has met

its goal of screening most passengers in less than five minutes.

Though Ponce and Sawyer anticipate a seamless transition, Post

said in the fluctuating aviation environment, new regulatory

conditions could arise at any moment, posing fresh challenges for the



Sawyer starts her new job today as division manager for the

security and investing division for the FAA’s Western Pacific region.

Part of the new job will include hiring workers for the agency.

“When the TSA assumed airport security responsibilities, there was

a void left on the FAA security side,” Sawyer said.

But a reduced FAA workforce hasn’t damaged its presence in

Burbank, Post said, adding that the FAA covers aircraft safety, while

the TSA is responsible for passenger safety.