Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Air marshals missing most flights - and I'm OK with that

In breathless tones, the major news media outlets are relaying that only 1% of all US flights of undercover US marshals on board.

Um - good! I'm fine with that. Studies have shown that 99% of the time, it's the appearance of enforcement that reduces crime. The knowledge that you *could* be caught is even more effective than hiring a lot of police (though the latter is useful too).

It's like when you see a cop car on the street. That car might be empty - the police officer might be off duty, getting a cup of Joe, or anything. But we all slow down.

Knowing that there are marshals on board is a good deterrent. Maybe your flight is one of the 99% that *doesn't* have a marshal, so you'll be safe telling the flight attendant to screw off, sit without your seat belt, and act like an ass.

Or, this could be your lucky day, and you're about to be pounced by a guy with a taser with your name on it.

1% is a pretty good measure for security work - as far as getting the guys after the fact. All of the other stuff - checking flight lists with up to date lists (something we aren't doing), checking bags before the flights (which, to be honest, we're doing too much), and of course good old fashioned law enforcement (finding the bad guys *before* they strike) - that's the real bread and butter of good security.

1% of marshals on flights? I'm good with that.

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