CCW Permit Holders Have Better Carriage Protocol Than One Federal Law Enforcement Agency
On November 1, 2011, Marcus Flagg, President of Federal Flight Deck Officers Association (FFDOA) testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, Chaired by Senator Joeseph Lieberman (D-CT). Mr. Flagg did an excellent job addressing problems with the TSA in general and the FFDO program in particular, as well as explaining the importance of a multi-layer security plan and how layers should complement each other.
Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDO's) are pilots who are federally trained and deputized Law Enforcement Officers. They are the fourth largest Federal Law Enforcement Agency, quietly and professionally doing their job as pilots while providing a critical layer of security.
The following points highlight the patriotism of the pilots who volunteer to serve their Country.
- They are fully vetted and required to pass a physiological profile test
- Training is conducted at the premier Federal Law enforcement Center ( FLETC)
- They are trained to the United States Justice Department's "use of force policy"
- They volunteer their time
- They use vacation pay or time off without pay from their regular job to attend training
- They pay their own room and board while at training
- They pay all travel expense
- They pay their own expenses to maintain proficiency
These volunteers are true patriots.
Just as my father did after Pearl Harbor, following 9-11, I also heard the calling to defend my country. I volunteered, passed written and psychological screening, background checks and was trained and deputized in one of the first classes of the FFDO program. Even though I was required to use archaic (sometimes dangerous) carriage protocol procedures that defy proven law enforcement standards, I carried a gun and had the authority to use lethal force to defend my flight from being used as a weapon of mass destruction. That's what kept me in the game. These onerous policies were in place because the corporate influence (airline management) convinced some in the government that the pilots who are entrusted with flying hundred million dollar airplanes full of passengers through severe weather were somehow unable safely carry a handgun. For liability reasons, airlines would rather have an airplane shot down by the U.S. military than have an employee kill a terrorist hijacker.
From the beginning, the TSA made the application process and daily operations as difficult as possible to discourage participation in the program and even acknowledged their intent to do so. But airline pilots by the thousands are still standing in line to be trained because they know that it is not economically feasible to have a Federal Air Marshal on every flight, and they are the last line of defense to protect our nation’s air transportation system. There may not be federal agents on most flights, but there are pilots on every one. Our own government today acknowledges that Aviation is still a high risk target for terrorism.
Please read the testimony. It will be interesting to see what congressional action, if any, will be taken to allow FFDO's to properly do their mission. We will report as further progress is made to fix the FFDO Program.
Captain (name withheld upon request)
Former Federal Flight Deck Officer