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How Airport Security May Change Under Trump

It s not just the much-mocked behavior detection gumshoes that will go, but possibly air marshals, pilot firearms training, and other TSA programs.

President Trump s budget blueprint[1] may be light on details, but for air travelers and airlines, one thing is clear: There could be big changes in the way the government handles airport security.

The White House has called for cuts in nearly every non-defense program, and while the Homeland Security department, which includes the Transportation Security Administration, is in line for a budget increase, most of that will likely go toward the president s priorities: immigration enforcement and building a border wall. As a result, number-crunchers are looking at how to cut TSA programs or staffing without jeopardizing security.

Three TSA programs have been singled out by the Trump administration as particularly wasteful:

One is the Behavioral Detection Officer program, launched around ten years ago to sniff out suspicious persons with observation techniques, in part inspired by the notoriously thorough Israeli model of airport screening (combining passenger interviews with monitoring of their body language.) Under TSA s version, screeners selected for this role spent weeks getting additional training; however, the results were less than stellar catching a small number of passengers for drug offenses and other infractions, but no alleged terrorists. The transfer of the 3,000 officers to the front lines should help ease bottlenecks. But this transition began the middle of last year following the TSA meltdown, and the vast majority of fliers, of course, won t notice any change at all. It s unclear how much money will be saved, but more than $1 billion has been spent on the program thus far.

Of the $3.7 billion currently collected from passengers annually, just $2.4 billion actually goes to airport checkpoints.

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Another item on the chopping block is a grant program to support local police at airports, specifically, large hubs like those in cities deemed likely terror targets, such as New York City[2] or Los Angeles[3], where they perform patrols and provide added protection to public areas. That will simply shift more of the burden for tasks like perimeter patrols to local governments, and lawmakers from affected areas are predictably outraged. Simply put, this administration s ‘safety last’ plan will not fly, and I will do everything I can to protect New York from the administration s cash raid for the border wall, said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)[4]. The administration argues that this is a matter better handled and paid for by local authorities.

Schumer also took aim at a third part of the plan, which would eliminate the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Program (VIPR), which deploys teams of agents, often with canine units, to airports and other transit hubs like rail stations. After a 2013 attack on a TSA checkpoint at LAX airport, more of these units were stationed at airports, but the budget document says the results don t justify the expense reportedly around $57 million a year.

Sources say, too, that there could be more cuts to TSA if the border wall goes over budget. The air marshal program, part of TSA, is also under scrutiny, says security expert Robert Poole, a transportation analyst with think tank the Reason Foundation. While details of that unit including how many marshals are still on flights aren t usually made public, Poole says it’s a big operating expense that covers a tiny fraction of all flights. The marshals themselves have been plagued by poor morale[5], and airlines have also objected to the expense they must bear, since they typically save space for these sky cops in the most expensive section of the plane near the cockpit[6].

Another related item, the federal flight-deck officer program, could also be jeopardy, according to reports, which allows pilots who receive specialized training to carry firearms with them into the cockpit. Many supporters view it as a way to supplement the air marshals, since they both share the aim of protecting the flight deck from a 9/11-style[7] attack. But cutting funding for pilot training would also reportedly save $20 million a year.

Ultimately, airlines could find themselves funding more of the TSA s functions, as they did last summer, when airlines ponied up more than $50 million of their own monies to add staff to handle non-security chores at checkpoints and for constructing new lanes with automatic bin[8] returns.

The government also wants fliers to pay more of the cost of funding airport screening; and, as reported[9], the September 11 security user fee will likely rise by at least $2 round-trip, to $13.20 per ticket. (Look at the fine print of taxes and fees on your airline ticket, and it s there.) The airlines have signaled they ll fight to avoid this after all, they re the ones whose fares will appear higher, and who have to collect the fees.

But aviation experts say that won t be enough to fulfill the White House s goal of having the public fund three-quarters of the current Transportation Security Administration budget about $6 billion a year, according to TSA sources. (That would be up from less than 40 percent today.) Of the $3.7 billion currently collected from passengers annually, just $2.4 billion actually goes to airport checkpoints[10].

References

  1. ^ budget blueprint (www.cntraveler.com)
  2. ^ New York City (www.cntraveler.com)
  3. ^ Los Angeles (www.cntraveler.com)
  4. ^ Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (www.schumer.senate.gov)
  5. ^ plagued by poor morale (www.cbsnews.com)
  6. ^ near the cockpit (www.cntraveler.com)
  7. ^ 9/11-style (www.cntraveler.com)
  8. ^ automatic bin (www.cntraveler.com)
  9. ^ as reported (www.cntraveler.com)
  10. ^ airport checkpoints (www.cntraveler.com)

Music, laughter play key role in Dr. Russ Randall’s 40-year-old chiropractic practice

For 40 years, Dr. Russ Randall’s patients have received more than an alignment at their office visits. The Grass Valley chiropractor’s visitors will likely get a story, a joke, maybe even a song. One way or another, he’s going to get them smiling.

“I really believe you have to have confidence in your doctor,” said Randall, who at 66 still works six days a week. “That’s the most important part. But laughter and fun and smiling are so important, I think. People come in with all the trauma and stress of life, it’s so nice to make people feel good not only with music but with treatment.”

It was April 1, 1977 when the 26-year-old chiropractor who had spent four years as an associate with a practice in Roseville after graduating at 21 from Palmer College in Davenport, Iowa first hung his shingle on Hughes Road. He’s been in his current offices at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Clark Street since November, 1990.

“I put in the The Union newspaper a month before, a little 2-by-2 ad saying I was going to open,” he said. “The first month I was here I had 200 office visits, because there were only about six chiropractors in town. Now there’s like 30 or 40.”

Randall has no immediate plans to retire. He said he’d like to keep his practice active until 2022, when he’ll celebrate 50 years in chiropractic medicine. MODEST BEGINNING

Those 200 visits weren’t enough to get him out of the office around the clock. When Randall opened his practice, he couldn’t afford both the office space and an apartment. So he slept on one of his adjustment tables before marrying his wife of nearly 40 years, Char, in June, 1977.

“I’d set the alarm so I was awake in time for patients,” he said. “I had the straightest back in town.”

During his four decades in Grass Valley, Randall has expanded his practice with more specialized degrees. In 1982, he started driving to the Bay Area on weekends. He spent two-and-a-half years earning his Diplomate in Chiropractic Orthopedics from the Los Angeles Chiropractic College. He later took a course on disability evaluation so he could work with workers compensation patients, something he still does occasionally.

“I just love people and I don’t like to play judge and jury, so I cut back on that,” he said. “But the extra credentials really opened a lot of doors, because the more you have, the more people acknowledge you.”

TURN UP THE MUSIC

When talking to Randall, it’s difficult to get him to stay on chiropractic medicine. His passion is music, and that’s where the conversation always leads. He’s from Rockford, Illinois, birthplace of Cheap Trick. Guitarist Rick Nielsen, two years Randall’s senior, went to a rival high school. In ninth grade Randall watched Nielsen perform in a basement.

He’s been playing guitar for 50 years and currently plays in Rewind Press Play, a local rock group that features primarily 50s and 60s hits.

“People will come in and say, ‘I’m having a bad day,’ or, ‘It’s my birthday,’ and I’ll say, ‘What would you like to hear?’ and they’ll say, ‘How about some Zeppelin?”

Dr. Randall then retrieved a guitar from a storage area adjacent to his main exam room and started strumming the opening of “Stairway to Heaven” before a segue into singing and playing some of Cheap Trick’s “Heaven Tonight.” He wrapped up his impromptu set with a quick sample of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Randall’s multitasking doesn’t end there. He moonlights for Gold Country Security at the fairgrounds, weddings and other events. It’s a little side gig that pays for his expensive music collection, which features almost 30 guitars and 10 Marshall amplifiers.

“I left here last night at 6 p.m. and I got home at 3 a.m. They call me the Terminator. Do I look tired to you? I’ve been doing this for 45 years. It’s because I like people. I like diversity. I like challenges. And the thing is, if you have different hats throughout the day, it makes life fun.”

To contact Staff Writer Stephen Roberson, email

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