TSA misconduct has increased by 26 percent between 2010 and 2012 a new government report says. Transportation Security Administration personnel were cited for misconduct more than 9,600 times in a three-year period, says the new report.
The new report from the Government Accountability Office was released Tuesday. It says that in many cases, employees found to be breaking rules or misbehaving were given light punishments, according to ABC News.
Acts of misconduct varied widely. Some involved TSA officers found napping on the job. Over 3,000 screeners either left their shift without permission, were late, or didn’t show up at all. A number of other cases involved TSA agents letting friends or family through with prohibited items.
One in ten acts of misconduct included inappropriate or abusive behavior, the report also showed.
That was not the worst of it though. The report says there have been 56 cases of theft and bribery. In one of the worst cases of theft, a TSA agent plead guilty in 2011 to stealing between $10,000 and $30,000 from passengers. It was also later found that the agent was bribing his managers and sharing the stolen money.
Another case involved two TSA agents who plead guilty in 2012 to stealing $40,000 from a traveller’s bag at JFK Airport in New York.
Almost a third of those involved in misconduct were suspended. 17 percent lost their jobs, while nearly half were given a letter of reprimand, CNN reports.
TSA Deputy Administrator John Halinski defends his agency’s policies. He says that discipline is not relaxed at the TSA. Those he can prove to be “doing drugs or breaching the security system intentionally” are fired, Halinski told Congress.
Despite this, some are skeptical. Representative John Mica (R-FL) says the TSA is not doing enough to punish acts of misconduct. He and others say that the report is not a surprise. The TSA is known for uneven training that can lead to confusion for agents about how to do their jobs.
Other politicians have come out to support the TSA. They say that many are quick to judge the agency harshly and don’t realize that misconduct is still rare.
After the new report on TSA misconduct released this week, the agency has accepted recommendations to improve employee training and incident reporting.