AU alumnus John Pistole finds easy transition between FBI and TSA

Thu, 2011-09-01 08:00 -- univcomm
September 1, 2011

With almost one year under his belt, the Director of the Transportation Security Administration John Pistole, an Anderson University graduate of 1978, said he has enjoyed a smooth transition from his previous job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

jpistole11Prior to being appointed to the position by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Pistole served as the deputy director of the FBI, which capped his 27-year career with the agency. Pistole said he still feels the same sense of calling he felt while serving in the FBI.

“The Lord opened doors in ways I could never have imagined,” said Pistole. “I feel as if the transition was as smooth as it was because of my earlier background in law enforcement and counterterrorism.”

Pistole brought with him a strong background in handling misconduct issues within the agency by formalizing processes and organizing the structure of the TSA. Still, Pistole recognized the new language associated with private sector stakeholders, regulatory agencies and labor unions, which he had to adjust to.

"One of my favorite parts of this job,” Pistole said, “is when engagements between the TSA and stakeholders lead to common understandings and safer modes of transportation for citizens. That is when I know we are all doing our jobs right.”

The director faced tough national scrutiny after the introduction of new security procedures and Advanced Imaging Technology screenings at airports around the country. He stood firmly behind the security measures through interview after interview, stating that it was in the best interest of travelers everywhere.

“We have to be right every single time,” said Pistole in regard to why TSA security checks have to be as thorough as possible. “A terrorist has to get through just one time before others are put in danger.”

Pistole hopes that members of his agency follow his example and do not allow the negative criticism to affect their duty to keep Americans safe. He stresses a message of professionalism to his agency by reminding each member that acting in a calm and professional manner will diffuse the situation.

Most importantly to Pistole, however, is the quiet time he gives himself every morning to pray for his “d.e.w.s.,” that is, discernment, encouragement, wisdom and strength. He said it is important for a servant to first take care of himself so that he may return the blessings by serving others.

“It is essential that we give thanks and praise,” said Pistole. “We must recognize the blessings we have each received in order to become effective servant leaders within our communities.”

A native of Anderson, Ind., John Pistole earned his bachelor’s degree from Anderson University in 1978 and earned a juris doctorate from Indiana University School of Law before going into practice for two years. Pistole began a career with the FBI in 1983 before he rose through the ranks and was appointed deputy director in 2001. In March 2006, the FBI honored Pistole with the 2005 Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano swore in Pistole as director of the TSA on July 1, 2010.

— Charles Holcomb is a junior from Westfield, Ind., majoring in communication arts and political science. Holcomb is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.