The head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, announced Thursday he would be retiring from public service effective Dec. 31, 2014.
Pistole served more than four years atop the agency created after the infamous September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that screen travelers and luggage at airports.
Pistole, a 26-year veteran of the FBI, boosted the agency’s professionalism and altered its approach to risk-based screening focusing greater emphasis on travelers who were less known to authorities or represented a known threat.
“No words can convey my deep gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the thousands of men and women committed to protecting the American public,” Pistole said. “I could not be more proud of all that our employees have accomplished together, particularly what they have done to help enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of transportation security while improving the passenger screening experience.”
Pistole stated he expects to be named to a position in academia in 2015.
President Obama nominated Pistole in May 2010 and said he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, reports USA Today.
Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Homeland Security Department, which oversees TSA, thanked Pistole for changing the agency’s approach to risk-based screening through trusted-traveler programs such as Pre-Check that allow travelers who have provided information to the government to move swiftly and in an expedited manner through checkpoint lines.
“John brought to TSA extensive experience in national security, counterterrorism and fighting organized crime,” Johnson said. “Because of his efforts over the past four and a half years, our country’s transportation systems are more safe and secure.”
Pistole took over an agency which was continuously criticized for groping travelers or buying the wrong scanning machines. Some vocal lawmakers said screening should be a private process rather than conducted in federal hands, as happens under contract at 18 airports.
Pistole not only improved training but boosted respect for the agency in Congress.
TSA Head John Pistole to Retire At Year’s End