Investigator | TSA officers flunk drug and alcohol tests

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We depend on them to keep guns and other weapons off airplanes.  But can we, as airline passengers, trust them to do their job? A Channel 3 News investigation found hundreds of TSA officers failing random drug tests at airport across the country.

TSA officers routinely find weapons at security checkpoints. They discovered 165 firearms in a two-week period last month. 144 were loaded.

"I'm a lot more concerned about flying these days," said Clevelander Chuck Dudash.

Federal records obtained by Channel 3 suggest many security officers aren't as alert as they should be.

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Records regarding random drug and alcohol testing at TSA were examined.  Airline passengers found the results unsettling.

"I mean I get drug-tested at work to sell food, not to protect lives and provide security," Keith Mierop said.

Since 2010, 858 TSA workers, including four at Cleveland Hopkins, tested positive for drugs and alcohol.

Marijuana, cocaine and opiates were among the drugs detected.

"If they're inebriated, how are they going to pay attention to what's coming on and off the plane. That's dangerous," said Sasharai William.

TSA misconduct appears to be getting worse. A report from the House Homeland Security Committee a year ago found misconduct complaints jumped 28 percent.

According to the report: "TSA employees have been criminally charged for using cocaine on the job, and facilitating large scale drug smuggling."

"When you fly you don't worry so much about yourself as you do worrying about other people and what they're doing. You're counting on TSA to screen people sufficiently," Marvin Leventhal said.

In a test of a different kind this year, a federal undercover team tried to sneak contraband---things like fake guns and drugs---through security checkpoints at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Investigators succeeded 95 percent of the time prompting passengers to say "that's insane" and "it's totally unacceptable."

TSA has a zero tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol. It does random drug testing ever year on a third of its 60,000 employee workforce.  Most employees are found to be drug-free.  But those who test positive are fired.