‘A lot of bizarre things’: What TSA screeners have seen in 20 years at BWI Marshall

On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration celebrated 20 years of federalized security operations at BWI Marshall Airport.

During the ceremony marking the anniversary, the TSA made sure to acknowledge some of the employees who have been there from the start.

The BWI Marshall Airport was the first in the country to begin the new screening protocols that have become common after 9/11.

(1/3)

On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration celebrated 20 years of federalized security operations at BWI Marshall Airport. The Maryland airport was the first in the country to begin the new screening protocols that have become common after 9/11.

During the ceremony marking the anniversary, the TSA made sure to acknowledge some of the employees who have been there from the start. And those workers said that when you screen bags for 20 years, you’ll see things that you wouldn’t expect.

“I mean, there’s a lot of bizarre things,” said Wayne Redman, who has been on the lookout for weapons and explosives at BWI Marshall since Day One.

For one, there’s the weapons. There’ve been lots of guns and knives confiscated by screeners over the years. But other times, things turn up that are a little more, as Redman put it, “personal.”

“I don’t want to talk more than that,” he said. “Sometimes it can be embarrassing for the passenger, as well as the officer, but we do it in a respectful manner.”

You know what else travels a lot on planes? Animals. And not all of them are alive.



Tawanda Price and Brad Russell, also baggage screeners since Day One, recounted the time someone packed the head of a goat.

“Freshly cut” is how Price described it. It wasn’t wrapped well, either. The passenger only used some plastic wrap. She and Russell had to inspect it, and it was messy, she said.

“The animals,” Russell said. “Snakes, you get spiders.”

Not all snakes are silent, especially venomous ones. “You can hear it in there, or it’ll be docile,” Russell said.

There was the donkey that had official support animal paperwork, too.

Price and Russell take a professional approach to whatever they find. After all, they’re trained to be respectful in situations that aren’t necessarily common in the United States, and which might garner stronger reactions in others.

“It’s a cool job,” Russell said. “You see a lot of different things, interesting things, every day.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Related Categories:

Latest News | Local News | Travel News

Tags:

john domen | tsa

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up