At many airports, T.S.A. officers conduct occasional drills in which the agents suddenly start screaming things like “Code Bravo! Freeze!” The drills, which the T.S.A. tells me happen only once or twice a year at any given airport, are intended to give the officers experience in what happens if there is a security breach. The goal is to train them in how to quickly shut down a checkpoint and, once the potential threat is resolved, get it up and running again in a timely manner.
“These drills are generally conducted during off-peak hours to minimize disruption, and generally last a minute,” said Kristin Lee, a spokeswoman for the agency. The agency conducts a range of security exercises, not all of them in public, to train checkpoint officers, she said.
Understood, I said. But still, am I, a citizen, required to stop motionless when the T.S.A. officers yell “freeze”?
Actually, no. The agency has “wide-ranging legal authority to carry out security-related responsibilities,” Ms Lee said. But in these specific drills, she added, “passengers are not required to ‘freeze’ in place like statues.” But if they are within the checkpoint security area, they may be required to remain there until the drill has ended, she said.
Just remember if you are in this situation, that just because you see this badge does not mean that the TSA “agent” is a law enforcement officer. The TSA adminstratively changed the title of their screeners to officers. HR 3608 Stop TSA’s Reach in Policy Act is in the US House of Representatives to address this misleading title. Find the current status of HR 3608 here.