A Thanksgiving Day morale booster for federal air marshals has instead turned into possible pink slips for air cops who ignore their strict dress code.
Thomas Quinn, director of the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), paid a surprise visit to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Thanksgiving to thank the law-enforcement officials for their holiday work. He reportedly was angered when nearly 30 marshals deplaned and only one was dressed satisfactorily.
In response, supervisors are being assigned to airports nationwide to inspect the air cops before and after flights to make sure business suits or sports coats are being worn, according to numerous memos issued last week and obtained by The Washington Times.
One air marshal who asked not to be identified called it "ridiculous" that marshals are expected to blend in with holiday travelers by wearing a suit.
"On Thanksgiving Day, travelers don't wear business suits to visit family and friends," the marshal said.
The dress-code policy is a sore point among the traveling marshals, who say it compromises their undercover status.
A provision included in the intelligence-reform bill would allow the air marshals to wear less-conspicuous clothing. The final vote on the bill is expected today in the Senate.
Pulling air cops from flight duty because of attire puts a strain on an agency already stretched for manpower, say marshals, who cover less than 2 percent of an estimated 30,000 daily flights. Suspending one marshal means the suspension of an entire team, which can affect two to four flights per day, the second marshal said.
"Of all times to do this, during the holidays, this is insane," the second marshal said.
Thursday, 9 December 2004
Seen over at Transterrestrial Musings, this story of Dilbertesque Management Cruelty and Stupidity :