December 2nd, 2008
Yesterday I spoke with a man whose supposed infraction of Port Authority rules may lead to a personal fine of $1000. His crime was failing to challenge an under-cover officer's undisplayed ID in a secured area. To tell this story while protecting the innocent I'll just call him Joe Pilot and say he works for a made-up Westwind Airlines. The undercover officer is Decoy Dan.
Decoy Dan approached Joe Pilot in a hallway of a secured area and started a short conversation. After a few seconds of this Dan indicated that Joe should come with him because Joe had done something wrong. Joe obliged and the pair walked a few steps to the chief pilot's office where Joe learned the extent of his liability.
The secured area I'm referring to is one of offices, filing cabinets, desks, lounge chairs, vending machines, lockers, and break rooms. It's not a busy ramp where alertness is required for physical safety but a place where crew go to print paperwork for their next flight, relax, or take a nap. A terrorist would enjoy the area for its access to aircraft so security is very important. In this area people should voluntarily raise awareness to abnormal situations for the same reason they bring any other safety related issues to immediate attention. The issue here is not whether Joe should have challenged for ID but whether it was his legal duty.
Joe was allowed in the secured area because he had an ID badge issued by Westwind Airlines. The terms and duties of his employment with Westwind were governed solely by his union contract and there was no requirement therein for Joe to challenge undisplayed ID. Joe wasn't even on paid company time during the infraction. The Port Authority issued badges to vendors and other airport employees but not to Joe. Joe did not have a Port Authority ID, which is the one Decoy Dan should have been wearing when he spoke to Joe. Joe had only a company ID and was required to challenge a Port Authority officer for failure to display a Port Authority ID.
Joe's infraction is one of inaction. He didn't DO something illegal but FAILED TO DO something supposedly required of him. Pilots have grave responsibility and have agreed to perform certain duties in accordance with their company employment and FAA certification. Joe can be held responsible for e.g. failing to check fuel levels before departure by both the company and the FAA. He has studied his duties because he is a professional and he performs them voluntarily because he is a free man who agreed to perform them. The FAA certificate bearing his signature is proof of that agreement.
Joe has never had an agreement with the Port Authority and yet they are holding him responsible for failure to notice and enforce rule violations committed by their officers. Free people can do anything that does not infringe on the rights of others. Doing nothing does not infringe on the rights of others so free people are free to do nothing. If the Port Authority can conscript Joe into their service then Joe is not free. This is a back-door draft of formerly free people into government service.