Behavior Detection Officers Scan for Threats

By Matthew Harwood, Staff Editor

According to a story in the Kansas City Star, the Transportation Security Administration has rolled out behavior detection officers as an extra layer of security to spot suspicious passengers at airports.

Behavior detection officers work in pairs. Typically, one officer sizes up passengers openly while the other seems to be performing a routine security duty. A passenger who arouses suspicion, whether by micro-expressions, social interaction or body language, gets more serious scrutiny.

A behavior specialist may decide to move in to help the suspicious passenger recover belongings that have passed through the baggage X-ray. Or he may ask where the traveler is going. If more alarms go off, officers will “refer” the person to law enforcement officials for further questioning.

The strategy is based off an Israeli model, although U.S. behavior detection officers receive less training than their Israeli counterparts. TSA expects to expand the program to 500 behavior detection officers ready by the end of 2008.


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