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Can I Get A Ruling On "Impersonality A Security Risk?"

Can I Get A Ruling On "Impersonality A Security Risk?"

Old Jul 5, 08, 10:22 am
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Can I Get A Ruling On "Impersonality A Security Risk?"

I'm currently sitting in the US Club at PHL. Behind me is a woman who looks dressed for business behind me, the volume of her voice is one that can be heard all the way over in Terminal F.

She is just prattling on with a woman and her two kids (I'd guess aged 17 & 21) about how much she loves her job as a Federal Air Marshal. She is speaking at full volume in an 80% empty quiet club about how she always flies first class, that she flies every day and that she always flies the same routes.

There are to many holes in her story to not laugh my ... off. When I got up to grab a bag of chips she was showing the Mom some sort of badge (it looked like the ones issued to TSA Inspectors)

She's obviously full of $#!+, but isn't there some law about impersonating a Federal Agent?


(and I wish she would just shut up, I'm trying to take a nap!)
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Old Jul 5, 08, 10:28 am
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I am not positive how the federal law goes in reference to impersonation. On a state level, normally the person has to be trying to gain something by impersonating a government official. The Fed law could be stiffer, but from your story, she is definitely not a FAM. They do not broadcast their job to anyone, especially in an airport.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 10:35 am
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Scott,

While I can usually spot FAMs from both heavy travel and having spent multiple years documenting homeland security as a photojournalist both domestically and abroad I can damn sure tell she isn't a FAM.

FAM that fly never out themselves. That would be a huge violation of protocol. They also don't sit in airport lounges, never show you their badge, they donot fly every day and they certainly don't fly the same routes daily.

.........it just seemed weird she had a badge, although the wrong badge.

FAM badges have an eagle at the top with it's 'head down' and the words 'United States' in a band of blue under the eagle and the initials "US" below that band of blue. This badge looked nothing like a FAM badge.

It looked like a TSA Inpectors Badge which has the eagle with it's 'head up' , then only the initials "US"and the word "Inspector" in a band of black below that over the DHS seal.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by sefrischling View Post
She is just prattling on with a woman and her two kids (I'd guess aged 17 & 21) about how much she loves her job as a Federal Air Marshal. She is speaking at full volume in an 80% empty quiet club about how she always flies first class, that she flies every day and that she always flies the same routes.

There are to many holes in her story to not laugh my ... off. When I got up to grab a bag of chips she was showing the Mom some sort of badge (it looked like the ones issued to TSA Inspectors)

She's obviously full of $#!+, but isn't there some law about impersonating a Federal Agent?
There's an easy way to see if she is a FAM - follow her to her gate, and see if she gets advance boarding.

As to your question, yes, it is illegal to impersonate a federal L/E officer.

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/az/press_r...(Hotusing).pdf
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Old Jul 5, 08, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by SgtScott31 View Post
The Fed law could be stiffer, but from your story, she is definitely not a FAM. They do not broadcast their job to anyone, especially in an airport.
While FAM's don't verbally broadcast themselves, they make themselves obvious in other fashions.

For anyone that spends a great deal of time in the air, they tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 11:26 am
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definitely a load of b/s as others have pointed out-fam's will not "out themselves" unless it is absolutely necessary.

however, i will point out that fam's do have lounge access-at least for united. on 2 separate occasions, i have seen fam's in the red carpet club. once at lhr (thought i saw was a "cred flash" at the front desk from two pax in front of me and these two "pax" were on my flight lhr-sfo (complete with pre-boarding and sitting in f). the second was at iad where i knew that one was a fam (flown with him before and again, if you knew what to look for, it was advertised) and he was explaining to his partner while at the coffee and snacks table, that it was nice perk for int'l flights
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Old Jul 5, 08, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by goalie View Post
these two "pax" were on my flight lhr-sfo (complete with pre-boarding and sitting in f).

it was nice perk for int'l flights
F tix on int'l flights is RCC access. I doubt that the FAMs get it as a matter of course for UA flights.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 1:58 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
F tix on int'l flights is RCC access. I doubt that the FAMs get it as a matter of course for UA flights.
I've seen FAM's in the RCC on more than one occasion.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 3:58 pm
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While FAM's don't verbally broadcast themselves, they make themselves obvious in other fashions.

For anyone that spends a great deal of time in the air, they tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
I'm curious as to why you would say that, and what the distinguishing characteristics would be?

I've seen hundreds, and to me they look like ordinary people -- some business travelers, some casual, even some long-haired hippie types (naturally, my favorite!). But generally -- nondescript, which is as it should be.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 4:19 pm
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Originally Posted by oneofthosepeopleyoulovetohate View Post
I'm curious as to why you would say that, and what the distinguishing characteristics would be?
A search will turn up lots of conversations on the topic.

In short, FAMs are to other passengers as unmarked Ford Crown Vics are to other cars on the road -- you can spot one in your mirror miles back. They are on the aircraft before general boarding, don't recline, don't drink alcohol, don't sleep on red-eyes. They also have particularly favorite seats -- if you hear someone arguing with a gate agent about losing a F or J seat for no particular reason, there's a good bet a FAM will be in that seat. In the premium cabins, flight attendants don't even bother to offer them alcohol and almost never attempt chit-chat. If someone visits the lav too frequently, they'll get up to check what might be going on in there.

There are lots of other tells. I was nearly fooled by what could be described as a "hottie", one day, but there were too many other hints for her to be anything else. As confirmation, she and her all-to-obvious colleague were off the plane first and standing in the crew line at immigration in BOS last I saw them.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 5:18 pm
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Oh, it's more of a behavioral thing, then!

That makes sense.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 5:30 pm
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Originally Posted by oneofthosepeopleyouloveto hate View Post
Oh, it's more of a behavioral thing, then!

That makes sense.
it is, and the fact that they are so easy to identify reduces their usefulness.

Sort of like federalizing gate security as a response to the 9/11 attacks, even though lax gate security wasn't the reason the attacks were successful.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 5:44 pm
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
While FAM's don't verbally broadcast themselves, they make themselves obvious in other fashions.

For anyone that spends a great deal of time in the air, they tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
You don't even have to fly a lot in order to be able to pick out a FAM; you just have to be observant. I am NOT a frequent flyer and yet if there's a FAM on my flight or in the boarding area, I can pick him/her out almost instantly. Not bragging or anything, it's just not hard to do.
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Old Jul 5, 08, 5:56 pm
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Doober,

But how do you know if you're RIGHT?!

Do you go up to the person and ask him/her? And do they confirm it?!
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Old Jul 5, 08, 11:35 pm
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Originally Posted by oneofthosepeopleyouloveto hate View Post
Doober,

But how do you know if you're RIGHT?!

Do you go up to the person and ask him/her? And do they confirm it?!
It is neither common nor unusual for a FAM to confirm their identity either explicitly or implicitly. I've had one go the implicit route once in response to, "how many runs this week?"

The bottom line is, the baddies know at least as much as we, if not more. Neither your agency nor the FAM's is effective. Your bosses may lay claim to a lack of publicized attacks since -- you know when -- but both the good news and the bad is that aviation is no longer the significant target. The really bad news is nobody knows what the target is.

Last edited by sinanju; Jul 5, 08 at 11:43 pm
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