Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Air Marshal Service Useless?

In April, Bruce Schneier pointed to this post by Rep John Duncan (R-TN) from a year ago
Duncan Blasts "Useless" Air Marshal Service which cites a USA Today story from Nov 2008, but still...

"And listen to this paragraph from a front-page story in the USA Today last November: ‘Since 9/11, more than three dozen Federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan.''

Actually, there have been many more arrests of Federal air marshals than that story reported, quite a few for felony offenses. In fact, more air marshals have been arrested than the number of people arrested by air marshals.

We now have approximately 4,000 in the Federal Air Marshals Service, yet they have made an average of just 4.2 arrests a year since 2001. This comes out to an average of about one arrest a year per 1,000 employees.

Now, let me make that clear. Their thousands of employees are not making one arrest per year each. They are averaging slightly over four arrests each year by the entire agency. In other words, we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest. Let me repeat that: we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest."

I wonder what's happened?


AM said...

Is their job to arrest people or is their job to protect us against a terror attack(or crazy flight attendants). How many arrests a cop on the street makes is not a measure of how good a cop he is. I'm sure the marshals also gave out no speeding tickets also.

Howard said...

A valid point, but I guess the question is, is there a task to do or not? Are there no arrests because there's no crime and if not, do we need them? Or is their presence (covert as it is) a deterrent? Were there many incidents before we expanded the program (and armed them)? Is this the best way to spend limited resources to protect against terrorism?