|Despite Death of Osama bin Laden, TSA Warns Vigilance Must Continue|
|Written by Ryan Gray|
|Monday, 02 May 2011 08:52|
A leading TSA representative cautioned that the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals and special ops should not detract from federal and local programs that employ school bus drivers be on the look out for criminal and even suspicious activity.
William Arrington, the general manager of TSA's Office of Highway and Motor Carrier, said that bin Laden's death was certainly the latest victory in the war against terrorism but reminded that the end-game has yet to be resolved. While refraining from giving specifics, he said he could assure that "there are a lot more [active terrorists still at-large] besides bin Laden."
TSA was working with intelligence to monitor the situation.
"There is no actionable intelligence right now that would indicate that we need to do anything other than to remind folks they need to continue to remain vigilant in our efforts against those who are seeking to harm us through our transportation systems," he added. "That certainly has been our message all along.”
School bus drivers have been widely referred to as the "eyes and ears" on the road for reporting security concerns on the nation's roads and highways, and especially in the communities they serve. For the past several years, TSA has targeted specialized training for the approximately 500,000 school bus drivers nationwide under the auspices of the First Observer program, formerly known as Highway Watch under the American Trucking Association. School bus drivers as well as other commercial operators are taught to trust their instincts if they observe an incident while behind the wheel that could denote possible criminal or terrorist activity. The drivers are given a toll-free number to call and to report the activity. The call center operated under contract with TSA then follows up on the lead with local law enforcement, which in turn contacts the school district if the investigation turns up anything concrete.
First Observer train-the-trainer training sessions have been presented the past two years during the STN EXPO in Reno, Nev. This summer, Arrington is scheduled to present a workshop in the Safety & Security track on the latest efforts by TSA to formalize school bus security action items that were adopted last May by the National Congress on School Transportation. He was also planning to give an update on TSA's Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program, or I-STEP, that provides exercise, training, and security planning tools and services to the transportation community.
"We have a lot of important info that can and should be shared with the industry," Arrington added. "[The STN EXPO] has always been a popular venue to get information out.”
While not falling under the umbrella of I-STEP, TSA has also been working with Washoe County Public Schools and Chris Smith, the district's emergency management director, on the "Broken Axle" school bus mass-casualty exercise that is open to STN EXPO attendees on July 27. Mike Dorn of Safe Havens International is also presenting a pre-conference seminar on "Powerful Tools for Improving School Bus Safety,
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 08:16|