A few years back the TSA’s “Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques” (SPOT) documents were leaked. Below are some of the indicators of threats that TSA would observe for passengers. Try applying these observations to general scenarios to be self aware of potential threats.

Assign 1 point per “stress” factor, 2 points per “fear” factor and 3 points per “deception factor”. 0-3 is no threat, 4-5 is cause for concern, 6 or more requires immediate intervention

Stress factors:

– Arrives late for flight, if known

– Avoids eye contact with security personnel or LEO

– Exaggerated yawning as the individual approaches the screening process

– Excessive fidgeting, clock watching, head-turning, shuffling feet, leg shaking

– Excessive perspiration inconsistent with the environment

– Face pale from recent shaving of beard

– Facial flushing while undergoing screening

– Faster eye blink rate when individual requested to submit to screening procedures

– Increased breathing rate, panting

– Obvious “Adam’s Apple” jump when requested to submit to screening procedures

– Protruding or beating neck arteries

– Repetitive touching of face

– Rubbing or wringing of hands

– Strong body odor

– – Sweaty palms

– Trembling

– Whistling as the individual approaches the screening process

Fear factors:

– Bag appears to be heavier than expected or does not suit the individual’s appearance

– Bulges in clothing

– Cold penetrating stare

– Constantly looking at other travelers or associates

– Exaggerated emotions or inappropriate behaviors to the location such as crying, excessive laughter or chatter

– Exaggerated, repetitive grooming gestures

– Hesitation/indecision on entering checkpoint or submitting to screening process

– Individuals who are seemingly unrelated but display identical dress or luggage

– Powerful grip of a bag or hand inside the bag

– Rigid posture, minimal body movements with arms close to side

– Scans area, appearing to look for security personnel or LEO

– Shows unusual interest in security officers and their work routine

– Displays arrogance and verbally expresses contempt for the screening process

– Wearing improper attire for location

– Widely open staring eyes

Deception factors:

– Appears to be confused or disoriented

– Appears to be in disguise

– Asks the Behavior Detection Officer security-related questions

– Does not respond to authoritative commands

– Maintains covert ties with others (maintaining consistent eye contact with others, exhibiting hand gestures to others or passing objects to others)

– Repeatedly pats upper body with hands (not associated with divesting objects at X-ray/Metal Detector).