44 TSA agents in Newark get suspended or fired


A screen shows Automated Target Recognition software installed in the advanced imaging technology unit at Miami International Airport in Miami, Fla.


Joe Raedle

The Transportation Security Administration will fire 25 employees at the Newark Liberty International Airport and suspend 19 others for allegedly failing to properly screen luggage, The Newark Star-Ledger reported. The 44 total firings or suspensions mark the largest personnel action ever taken by the TSA.

Initially concerned about possible thefts, TSA officials say that they installed 25 surveillance cameras for an investigation that began last year. The footage allegedly revealed "screening failures," the Associated Press reported. A total of 52 TSA employees were caught up in the investigation.

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The union representing the fired employees denies the charges, suggesting instead that the TSA employees are being blamed for management failures. "The charges right now seem to be improper screening of bags, which we don't feel is correct," Stacy Dodtmann, regional vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told the AP. "We feel they performed their jobs to what they were trained to do."

The news also comes after The Newark Star-Ledger obtained an internal memo earlier this month, revealing that screeners at the Newark Liberty International Airport properly execute pat-downs only 16.7 percent of the time.