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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)

Five apply for Justice of Peace job

The Teton County commissioners invite all county residents to attend a public forum on Wednesday, March 29, at 6:30 p.m. in the courtroom of the county courthouse in Choteau to meet the five applicants for interim Teton County justice of the peace. The five candidates are Devonna McCartney, Dianna Fellers Nelson, Pete Rasmussen and Janie Zwerneman, all of Choteau, and Ashley Johnson of Pendroy. Three of the applicants, Nelson, Rasmussen and Zwerneman, all ran against Myhre in the last primary election, seeking the elected position. During the forum, each of the five applicants will give a brief speech about why they have applied, and then the applicants will take questions from the audience.

The five Teton County residents have applied to be appointed to fill out the remainder of elected Justice of the Peace Wes Myhre s first four-year term in office. Myhre resigned as of March 20 to take a position as a federal courthouse security officer in Great Falls. The justice of the peace position, which is three-quarters time, pays $33,701.15 annually. Myrhe s term ends on Dec. 31, 2018, and will be open for election in 2018. The commissioners advertised for applicants with March 22 being the deadline to apply. All five applicants have either completed the state s Justice of the Peace certification training or are able to become certified within six months of being appointed.

Applicants had to be at least 18 years old, U.S. citizens and residents of Teton County for at least one year before the appointment. The Teton County commissioners will interview the applicants on Thursday, March 30, as follows: 9 a.m., Devonna McCartney of Choteau; 9:30 a.m., Ashley Johnson of Pendroy; 10 a.m., Dianna Fellers Nelson of Choteau; 10:30 a.m., Pete Rasmussen of Choteau; 11 a.m., Janie Zwerneman of Choteau. All interviews will be conducted in the courthouse in the conference room on the main floor. Following the conclusion of the interviews, the commissioners will hold their regular business meeting at 1 p.m. in the conference room and will appoint the new justice of the peace at that time.

Here is biographical and work information from each applicant s resume:

Dianna L. Fellers Nelson

A 1978 graduate of Turner High School, Nelson has a 1993 associate degree in paralegal studies from an Atlanta, Georgia, college, a general certificate from the Great Falls Vo-Tech in 1993 and a pharmacy technician certification from the State Board of Pharmacy. She is also certified as a justice court clerk and has taken numerous courses in paralegal and legal studies. She currently works 20 hours a week in Justice Court, where she has worked for more than 20 years as the court clerk. She also has worked part-time for the past 12 years as a pharmacy technician at Choteau Drug. From 2003 to 2005, she also worked as a part-time deputy clerk and election clerk in the Teton County Clerk and Recorder s Office. From 1996 to January 2015, she was also the Choteau City Court clerk.

As the current Justice Court clerk, Nelson performs all secretarial and bookkeeping responsibilities for the court, including scheduling, accounting for funds, collecting fines, preparing notices and restraining orders, and assisting with small claims and civil actions. Through her work at Justice Court, she has worked with law enforcement, city and county attorneys, District Court judges and clerks, city court judges and clerks and many other agencies in the county and the area and works with the public on a daily basis.

Ashley A. Johnson

Johnson s education includes an associate of arts degree from Great Falls College-Montana State University, completed in 2014, and she is taking online classes to earn a bachelor s degree in sociology from Grand Canyon University, based in Phoenix, Arizona. She has worked as the Pondera County Justice Court clerk since March 2015, where her duties include serving as receptionist, secretary, office manager and clerk. She is responsible for keeping all books, papers and records field with the court; collecting, tracking and processing money received; and attending hearings, and preparing documents, orders and correspondence for the judge.

Previously she worked as a teller at Independence Bank in Conrad from June 2014 to March 2015. She also worked for Loenbro, based in Black Eagle, as a recruiter from March 2013 to June 2014, and as an receptionist/clerk for Express Employment in Great Falls from July 2012 to March 2013.

Devonna McCartney

McCartney attended George Wythe College in Cedar City, Utah, studying political science in the 1996-97 school year. She also completed 12 semester credits at the Great Falls College-MSU in 2006. She has been the co-owner of Fly Girlz Embroidery in Choteau since 2013 and worked in embroidery at Black Sheep Sports and Graphics in Choteau from December 2009 to July 2011. From December 2008 to October 2009 she was a veterinary technician at Bridger Veterinary Hospital in a Helena and has also worked as a seasonal employee at Sun Canyon Lodge, a nanny, a bookkeeper, a heavy equipment operator and as a self-employed rancher. Since February 2012, she has been a trained Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer for Front Range CASA, working with children, parents, foster parents, attorneys, child protective services workers, teachers and counselors as she advocates for children whose families are in the court system.

Pete Rasmussen

Rasmussen is a 1985 graduate of Choteau High School, who attended Western Montana College at Dillon and Miles Community College in Miles City. Since 1996 he has maintained his real estate broker s license, attending various real estate education schools and workshops. Since 1996, he has been a broker with R&R Real Estate in Choteau, where he works in marketing and sales of residential, farm and ranch and commercial real estate. As a part-owner, he also works with the public daily and does general computer and office work. He also owns and operates a commercial Angus and Corriente cow/calf business and works in general farm and ranch labor on area ranches on an as-needed basis.

He served from 1999 to 2007 on the Choteau City Council, where he was president of the council. He is a member of the Choteau Volunteer Fire Department and the Choteau Chamber of Commerce, and a past board member of the Teton WeatherBeater Corporation. He is also a past member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Northern Rodeo Association.

Janie Zwerneman

Zwerneman is a 1986 graduate of Choteau High School who earned an associate s degree in general education with a communications emphasis from the University of Montana at Missoula. From June 2015 to Feb. 2017, she worked as a rehabilitation specialist with the nonprofit Center for Mental Health in its Choteau office. She aided clients with recovery, assisted clients as they applied for assistance from other agencies, helped clients obtain community services, provided transportation and assistance with daily living skills and did front-office reception and scheduling. From December 2009 to May 2015, she was the office manager for Dr. Brian McCollom s optometry practice in Choteau, where she handled reception, insurance and patient billing, collections, scheduling, inventory and eyeglass sales, fitting and repair. From 2005 to 2009 she was the site manager at the Skyline Lodge in Choteau. She and her husband owned their own business, the Big Sky Bronze foundry from 1993 to 2005, and from January 2005 to July 2005 she was a part-time dispatcher for the Sheriff s Office.

She is a member of the Teton County GOP Central Committee and has been a volunteer emergency medical technician and a ski patrol member. She is a past president of the Choteau Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Choteau Jaycees and served on the Shadows of the Past Art Auction Committee.

Alleged Berkeley Bank Robbers Arrested

BERKELEY, CA Two brothers with criminal records have been charged with multiple felony counts for a string of five armed robberies at banks in Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley and Fremont, police said.

Russell Bartlow, 53, and Jerron Bartlow, 36, who live together in the 2000 block of 100th Avenue in East Oakland, were arrested in Oakland last Wednesday and were charged last Friday. They’re scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland on April 10 to enter pleas. Berkeley police Officer Mike Parsons wrote in a probable cause statement that the Bartlow brothers were arrested for robberies at a Chase Bank branch in Oakland on Nov. 19, a Citibank branch in Alameda on Dec. 19, a Bank of the West branch in Oakland on Jan. 23, a Chase Bank branch at 1870 Solano Ave. in Berkeley on Feb. 9 and at a bank in Fremont on March 18. A total of at least $40,000 was taken in the robberies, Parsons said.

Security camera footage and motor vehicle records connected the Bartlow brothers to the series of crimes, Parsons said. One of the suspects wore a security guard jacket and was armed with a small-framed black revolver, according to Parsons. In addition, a records check indicated that Russell Bartlow was on probation for a conviction in federal court for a bank robbery, Parsons wrote.

When officers searched the brothers’ home they found a security guard jacket, black cargo pants, black Nike shoes and a small black revolver that were all consistent with what authorities believe Russell Bartlow wore
or used during the bank robberies, Parsons said. Russell Bartlow ultimately confessed to four of the five robberies, including both incidents in Oakland and the incidents in Berkeley and Fremont, according to Parsons.

He also admitted to wearing the security guard uniform and being armed with a revolver during the robberies, Parsons said. Russell Bartlow is charged with nine counts of second-degree robbery and one count each of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance with a firearm and possession for sale
of a controlled substance.

Jerron Bartlow is charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and one count of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. Prosecutors say Russell Bartlow has seven prior felony convictions dating back to 1985. They say he has three convictions for armed robbery, two for second-degree robbery, one for second-degree commercial burglary and one for possession for sale of a controlled substance.

Prosecutors say Jerron Bartlow has a prior conviction for possession for sale of cocaine base.

Russell Bartlow is being held in custody in lieu of $1.2 million bail and Jerron Bartlow is being held in lieu of $410,000 bail.

Bay City News; Image by Renee Schiavone, Patch

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