The Least Competent and Most Corrupt Law Enforcement Agency Spent $200 Million Per Arrest

There was the air marshal who sued because he was denied his onboard meal choice, and the one who left his loaded gun in the bathroom. (Another left a handgun in an airplane lavatory, it was discovered by a teenager.)

Then there was the one who pulled his service weapon on two civilians in a parking space dispute at New York JFK.

    Liam Neeson in 2014 film “Non-Stop”

They scheduled work assignments to facilitate vacations and sexual trysts. Which is fine because they’re insufficiently trained to do much even if something did happen on their watch.

There was the one who tried to hire a hit man to kill his wife, the one who smuggled cocaine, and the one who sexually abused a young boy.

After over 7 years the TSA has finally responded to a FOIA request for reports of air marshal misconduct.

For starters, air marshals were arrested 148 times from November 2002 through February 2012. There were another 58 instances of “criminal conduct.”

In addition, air marshals engaged in more than 5,000 less serious incidents of misconduct, ranging from 1,200 cases of lost equipment to missing 950 flights they were supposed to protect.

…250 air marshals have been terminated for misconduct; another 400 resigned or retired while facing investigation.

Air marshals have been suspended more than 900 times, resulting in more than 4,600 days lost to misconduct.

The Washington field office had the most incidents with 530 cases, followed by New York with 471, Chicago and Dallas with 373 each and Los Angeles with 363. There were 85 cases at air marshal headquarters, highlighting that in some cases, misconduct has extended to the top brass.

Remember that there have been more air marshals arrested than people arrested by air marshals: “we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest.”

But the TSA tells us,

“The vast majority of FAMs [federal air marshals] are dedicated law enforcement professionals who conduct themselves in an exemplary manner,” it said. “TSA and FAMS continually strive to maintain a culture of accountability within its workforce.”

As they say, a few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It is extremely sad that people employed to serve in these ‘armed’ law enforcement positions have absolutely no business being in them. Be it Police, Air Marshalls or Neighbourhood watches….

  2. The most ridiculously jaded post in a long history of trashy posts. How about reviewing the spotless track record of your accounting community? Keep up the great work Gary.

  3. Thanks for the informative links Gary. It’s a real eye opener.
    Ryan: Because the accounting industry suffers from financial misconduct, you believe Gary shouldn’t be able to report on Air Marshall misconduct?

  4. @LivelyFL … Tough to take an article seriously when it’s as biased as this piece. To be fair though, I’ve met Gary in person so I should know to temper my expectations with his writing.

  5. Gary, your post may be factually correct, but you know exactly what the commenters are getting at. You are not going to win the war on the TSA with these kid of posts. They’re like some old windbag jabbing his finger in to you every time he repeats the punchline of some tired old story that never changes. You have an amazing platform, use it for change not for whining.

  6. @Blank I don’t think even the commenters know what they are getting at, at least they haven’t said, so perhaps you’re reading your own biases into others? I’m not going to win the war on the TSA, there’s too much money wrapped up in too many big government contracts for nude-o-scopes and they’ve been unionized. The security state is here to stay.

  7. This article is extremely ill informed. Quantifying the money spent per arrest makes about as much sense as breaking down how much is spent on the secret service compared to assignation attempts thwarted. As far as scandals pointed out, marshals picking their assignments based on places they want to visit? Oh the humanity! Heaven forbid they get a few days off. What is next? Attacking flight attendants, pilots, and literally any other business traveler who gets to visit other places?

    Instead of making this post an attack on the actual marshals, it might do better to go after the terrible work schedules they are are put through:

  8. Gary,

    Your biased article is ridiculous. I’m guessing you got bumped out of first class by an Air Marshal the day you wrote it.

    An Air Marshal’s duty is not to make arrest. They are an extra layer of security to the aviation industry.

    An argument can be made that the program is too expensive for what it provides, but your jaded assessment is juvenile.

  9. @John – what has this ‘extra layer of security” actually produced? Air Marshals don’t have sufficient training to do anything useful if they were ever actually confronted with a real threat.

  10. Gary,

    Then it is clear you know nothing about their training.

    What have they produced? There have been no hijacking attempts so that is debatable. If a police officer stands outside a bank and it does not get robbed is the officer useless?? To me they are a deterrent and I am glad to have them on any flight I am on, especially in today’s security environment.

    You are entitled to your opinion but that’s all it is.

  11. Thanks for this post. Regardless of what this leads to it is important to report this like you did so that it is brought to people’s attention. It is called journalism and since your media is somewhere people turn to, to get the latest updates, it is very good to see posts like this. Especially when it is rarely reported by mainstream.

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