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Security manager at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport steps down citing ‘lack of support’ to be compliant with TSA

Updated: Jul. 31, 2019 at 1:14 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The security manager at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport abruptly submitted his resignation, according to a memo obtained by 19 News.

The document submitted by Howard Phillips, dated July 15, said he is stepping down because of “the lack of support to make the changes needed to be compliant with Transportation Security Administration regulations.”

Phillips said in the letter that standards set by the TSA could not be met with the staff provided, which would mean Cleveland Hopkins International Airport could face fines for non-compliance.

The security issues had an impact on Phillips’ health, writing, “I have spent way too many nights thinking about issues in the department or with individuals in the department and my health and well-being are far more important regardless of those that may say I am taking things too personally.”

Phillips said he plans to go into retirement after his resignation. His final moments at the airport following his resignation were capture on security surveillance cameras.

19News learned TSA is investigating the airport for a number of possible security violations.

The TSA wouldn't give us any specifics during an open investigation.

They did note they can issue civil penalties.

A spokesman for the city of Cleveland says the airport is compliant with all TSA regulations and the airport security plan.

He says the Airport Security Manager receives the full support of airport leadership.

When asked about safety, the city listed a number of agencies involved with security and noted the manager position is responsible for badging and compliance, not law enforcement.

“The airport security consists of the Cleveland Division of Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection, TSA, Homeland Security, Cleveland Fire, Airport Fire and airline security, none of which are a part of the responsibilities of the Airport Security Manager,” the city said.

The city confirmed Phillips was in the position for less than 24 months and he did not face any disciplinary actions.

However, Phillips did receive verbal counseling on one occasion.

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