At Walker Field, the transition to federal screeners happened Oct. 19, said Rene Dhenin, the TSA's federal security director for Walker Field and airports in Montrose, Telluride and Gunnison. Dhenin
said the TSA
employs 32 screeners at Walker Field, and seven to 10 screeners will be on duty during each shift.Nation- wide, the TSA
employs 44,000 screeners. Dhenin
and representatives of Walker Field, the Airport Authority, the Grand Junction Police Department
and Rep.Scott McInnis' office made the TSA announcement at the airport.
said the equipment is in place in Grand Junction, Montrose and Telluride and will likely begin operation in "a few days."
Airlines now are in charge of baggage screening, but the TSA
will take over those responsibilities when the new explosive-detection equipment is up and running, Dhenin
said federal passenger security screeners are only part of the changes that have happened since Sept. 11, 2001, to make American air travel safer. He
said "record numbers" of federal air marshals are traveling on commercial flights, and all commercial aircraft now have reinforced cockpit doors to help keep intruders away from pilots. He
said all federal screeners complete 44 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of on-the-job training, and the fact that they're federal employees instead of private workers means the TSA
can better ensure they're well-qualified to carefully screen airline passengers.
At Walker Field, Dhenin
said, most of the new TSA screeners were employees of the private contractor that previously supplied screening at the airport. Dhenin
also advised holiday travelers who are taking gifts with them to wrap Christmas packages after they arrive at their destination.
In many instances, security screeners will likely unwrap gifts to examine contents before travelers board their planes, he
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