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TSA training thousands of new screeners following shortage, poor performance

Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 23, 2016

BRUNSWICK, GA - In light of the Brussels attacks, security is high at airports around the world and in the U.S.

The pressure is on the Transportation Security Administration, which is already facing a shortage of officers, failed screening tests, and longer wait times.

At the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) just outside Brunswick, Ga. there thousands of new TSA officers are going through new, rigorous training.

Between January and September of this year, the TSA hopes to hire and train 5,400 new officers nationwide. They will all undergo a brand-new, two-week intensive training at FLETC at a cost of nearly $13 million.

Previously, officers were trained on the job, or by an online course. That meant officers would often fail to catch dangerous items during screening tests.

The training includes seeing different types of explosive devices in person, and watching them blow up, to get an idea of the seriousness of the threats they are looking out for.

"There is a lot more to this than you realize," said Sandee Knowless, an officer going through the training from Idaho Falls, ID. "It opens your eyes to the other side of things."

The trainees get hands-on training at a mock airport screening area with real equipment.

The hiring and training blitz is in response to a massive staffing shortage, and growing wait times at already busy airports.

In February the director of the Atlanta airport, which is the world's busiest by traffic, told the TSA it had 60 days to dramatically lower wait times or the TSA would be thrown out in favor of private security.

The TSA hopes to have all 45,000 existing officers attend the two-week training course sometime over the next few years.