Security shakeup at Sea-Tac


Seatac, WA - 5/12/04 - A former federal security supervisor in San Diego and a retired Coast Guard rear admiral have been placed in charge of federal airline security at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as part of a shakeup in security management, the government said yesterday.

John C. "Jack" Kelley Jr., former deputy federal security director at San Diego International Airport, will become federal security director at Sea-Tac, starting Monday, said Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Jennifer Marty.

Retired Coast Guard Rear Admiral Ralph D. Utley has been named deputy federal security director for TSA at the airport. His starting date has not been announced.

The two men will replace former Sea-Tac federal security director Robert Blunk and his second-in-command, former deputy Sea-Tac federal security director Robert Coleman. Both Blunk and Coleman were transferred to TSA's Washington, D.C. headquarters effective this week as a result of an ongoing management and leadership review by TSA at Sea-Tac.

Two other TSA supervisors at Sea-Tac, assistant security director for screening Melvin Jackson and deputy assistant security director for screening Nick Zambito, were placed on paid, indefinite administrative leave as part of the same review.

Kelley was acting security director during his time in San Diego and, more recently, filled a similar slot in Lihue, Hawaii. He is a 32-year veteran of fedearl and local law enforcement, including work as principal officer in the U.S. Customs Service Attache program, responsible for 23 countries in Central Europe, Scandinavia and the former Soviet republics.

Utley retired from 30 years of Coast Guard service just before accepting the Sea-Tac post. His last Coast Guard assignment was Chief Procurement Officer in Washington, D.C.

Kelley and Utley will work with acting Sea-Tac security director Ken Kasprisin and his team for perhaps two weeks before completely taking charge, Marty said. Once the change is compete, Kasprisin and his team members will return to their previous posts at Minneapolis International Airport.

TSA officials have not offered detailed explanations for why Blunk, Coleman, Jackson and Zambito were pulled from their Sea-Tac positions but the moves followed a separate internal investigation in which Sea-Tac screeners aired a variety of greivances against the former management team. The complaints included one allegation that another supervisor, Kevin Morris, had taken money from TSA workers to help them obtain promotions. Morris has been on paid administrative leave since early Feburary.

TSA officials said the management review and the internal investigation were separate. Marty said the internal investigation, conducted at Sea-Tac early this year, is complete but an internal TSA review board will be convened to determine Morris' status. She said no other investigations of Sea-Tac operations have begun "that I'm aware of."



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