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Deputy on carpet for trying to get woman past airport screeners

Friday, December 05, 2003

By Mike Bucsko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An Allegheny County sheriff's deputy could face a fine, suspension or other disciplinary action for violating security procedures when he attempted to help a friend bypass screeners at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Deputy Edward Rose, who was dressed in his county uniform, tried to bypass the normal line in the screening procedure by claiming that the woman he was escorting was a VIP, said Ann Davis, a Transportation Security Administration regional spokeswoman in Boston.

Rose and the woman made it past the first checkpoint, where security workers check for boarding passes. They were sent to a private screening room, bypassing a long line of airline passengers queued up for the next step in the screening, the metal detectors and X-ray machines, Davis said.

The incident occurred about 8:30 a.m. Monday, which routinely is a busy time at the screening checkpoint.

County police questioned Rose and asked to see his county identification. Rose claimed he was escorting the woman to the airport gate because of her status.

However, he soon admitted the woman was his friend and he feigned an official duty so she could bypass the line and move more quickly to the gate to catch her flight, Davis said.

The woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, was allowed to proceed to the gate to catch her flight after her boarding pass was confirmed.

County police turned the matter over to the TSA and referred the case to the sheriff's department, county police Superintendent Ken Fulton said.

The TSA is not a law enforcement agency and does not file or pursue criminal charges, Davis said. But the agency can administer civil penalties, such as a fine, and works with local agencies on other civil penalties, such as suspensions, she said.

Any job-related discipline for Rose would have to be imposed by the sheriff's department. Sheriff Pete DeFazio could not be reached yesterday for comment.


Mike Bucsko can be reached at mbucsko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1732.

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