TSA is 20 years old, and BWI Marshall plays a big role in its history

It was 20 years ago Friday that the newly created Transportation Security Administration began taking over security at U.S. airports, and BWI Marshall was the first U.S. airport to have TSA’s federal security screeners working at checkpoints and airline jetways.

Many of the original TSA employees assigned to BWI are still there.

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act was passed by Congress shortly after the terrorist attacks in September 2001, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on Nov. 19, establishing TSA as a new agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Department of Transportation ordered the reopening of airspace for civilian air traffic on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks.

Just over a year later, with the passage of the Homeland Security Act, the TSA would be transferred to the newly minted Department of Homeland Security. That department remains responsible for transportation security in the U.S.

It was one of the largest mobilizations of the federal government since World War II and the largest civilian undertaking in the history of the U.S. government.

The swearing-in ceremony for TSA’s first group of federal security directors was held at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on April 13, 2002, with the first officers deployed to BWI Marshall a little more than two weeks later.

About 100 current TSA agents working at BWI Marshall airport have been on the job there since the beginning of 2002. TSA has a total of 600 employees currently working at BWI Marshall, and 47,000 uniformed officers assigned to U.S. airports across the country, many of them military veterans. The agency has a total of 60,000 employees.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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