How many is too many: TSA agents busted for drugs a travel concern

The highest failure rates occurred at some of the nation's busiest airports

Two dozen TSA workers have been fired at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport after they failed alcohol and drug tests.

ATLANTA -- Two dozen Transportation Security Administration workers were fired in metro Atlanta after they failed alcohol and drug tests between 2010 and 2016.

Most TSA workers pass without a problem, but when you’re talking about the security of airports, some say that even a few people in the TSA failing drug and alcohol tests is too many.

It’s a sobering thought as you pass through security at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Some TSA screeners may be high or drunk on the job.

Newly released figures show over the last 6 years, more than 800 TSA employees flunked random drug and alcohol tests around the country. The highest failures occurred at some of the nation’s busiest airports.

Results show 51 TSA workers tested positive for drugs or alcohol at LAX. JFK in New York had 40 employees test positive.

And at the world’s busiest airport, here in Atlanta, 24 TSA workers failed their alcohol and drug tests. That’s something that doesn’t sit well with some passengers.

“I’m depending on you to protect me and my safety and you feel the need to involve yourself in drugs,” one passenger said. “Why? Why would you want to do that?”

The TSA has had its share of troubles recently – especially here in Atlanta. Last Monday, a loaded handgun made it through TSA security. Now comes this new information about drug use.

In summer of 2016, congressional investigators released a scathing report about widespread misconduct by airport screeners noting specifically TSA employs have been criminally charged for using cocaine on the job.

The TSA randomly tests for a variety of drugs including cocaine, marijuana, opiates and amphetamines.

“The passing rate for random drug and alcohol testing is 99.45 percent out of a workforce of approximately 60,000 employees,” a spokesperson pointed out.

That means that just .55 of a percent test positive. That is far below what is documented for other federal workers in safety-sensitive jobs. Statistics show 1.5 percent of those workers came back positive after random drug and alcohol tests.

 

“I don’t think it’s just TSA,” one traveler said. “I think, if you were to check all the police and all the firefighters and everything else and see where they stand on the same issue if they were tested.”

A TSA spokesperson also noted that unlike some other departments in the federal government, when a TSA employee fails a drug or alcohol test, they are fired immediately.

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