Empowering transportation professionals to be “eyes and ears” when something “doesn’t look right”
Commercial Freight Services, Inc.(CFS) recently hosted a team from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at their cargo handling, trucking, and warehousing facility near Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). The TSA instructors were there to provide live onsite training in the First Observer Plus™ program.
The program’s goal is to improve surface transportation security in the United States by training transportation professionals to recognize suspicious activity that could be related to terrorism, assess what they see, and report their observations.
First Observer™ was first introduced by the TSA in 2008 as a security awareness program for highway modes of transportation. It was based on a previous program called “Highway Watch.” First Observer Plus™ is the current version and has been expanded to cover every mode of surface transportation and includes updated content. The program is offered to transportation professionals as online video training or onsite live training.
“The TSA’s First Observer Plus™ program is a very constructive outreach program. The four presenters who came to our facility were engaging, knowledgeable and compelling. The training received an enthusiastic response from our employees.”
— Lorri Fairchild, President, CFS
Participants in the First Observer Plus™ program;
- explore what a terrorist threat in their transportation work environment might look like
- examine the motives and rationales commonly offered by terrorists
- gain an understanding of the planning and execution stages frequently used in a terrorist act
- learn how to recognize and report suspicious activity
… and importantly, participants are instructed to:
- NOT intervene or engage suspicious people or objects,
- DO follow their company’s reporting policies. These policies may include contacting local law enforcement and the TSA.
Lessons learned and evolving threats
More than 20 years later, the September 11 terrorist attacks may seem like a far-off event to some but it was a tragedy that united us as a nation – and it spurred the establishment of new government agencies and procedures to prevent such acts of terror from ever happening again. The TSA was one of those agencies. It was established in November of 2001 as a direct result of 9/11 with the mission to safeguard air, land, and rail transportation from threats, sabotage, and acts of violence.
Even though we have not seen another major attack like 9/11 in the United States, we can’t afford to be complacent. Threats to our citizens, critical infrastructure, and commerce continue to evolve and many of the lessons we learned following 9/11 about fighting terrorism still apply today.
Domain experts with 95% of the knowledge needed
In the trucking industry alone, there were 3.54 million truck drivers and a total of 8.4 million people employed in jobs that relate to trucking in 2022. According to First Observer Plus, transportation professionals already have 95% of the knowledge needed to spot what doesn’t look right. The program hopes to provide those frontline professionals with the remaining 5% of knowledge and tools, increase their security awareness, and empower them to contribute to our national security.
“It was an eye-opener. The training and the real-world examples made an impression. I came away feeling like we could really make a difference. Hats off to the trainers, they were excellent.”
— Terri Ling, Safety and Quality Supervisor, CFS
About Commercial Freight Services
Commercial Freight Services (CFS) provides truckload, warehousing, and air cargo handling and security screening from their US hub in Michigan located near Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW). CFS is an active partner of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with a management team comprised of industry experts. Commercial Freight Services is a Certified Cargo Screening Facility (CCSF), Certified Cargo Screening Facility-K9 (CCSF-K9), and a certified Container Freight Station (CFS).