Good show, Mr. Polski

A key figure in the technological development of the Transportation Security Administration's airport security devices last week received a Service to America Medal, also known as a SAMMIE.

Paul Polski, chief of staff to TSA's chief technology officer, received the Homeland Security Medal in recognition of his contribution to national security. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he led a team that helped develop new technologies for airport security.

Those innovations include explosive-detection equipment, X-ray machines for baggage, screener training guides and hardened luggage containers designed to absorb the impact of an explosion.

Polski, a 1958 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Navy pilot during the war in Vietnam, began his federal civilian career at the Federal Aviation Administration in 1990.

The SAMMIES were created in 2002 by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and Atlantic Media Co. Nine Service to America Medals were selected by a committee that included Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Caroline Kennedy and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman and publisher of the New York Times.

TSA Deputy Administrator Stephen McHale will receive the Federal Employee of the Year medal for his work in developing the agency's blueprint in 2002. This is the highest award among the group and is accompanied by a $10,000 award.

McHale was one of the agency's first employees. He oversaw the hiring of 158 federal security directors and the transfer of 1,200 FAA employees into TSA.

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