TSA wants more police at airport checkpoints

TSA wants more police at airport checkpoints
© Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration is calling for more armed police officers at airport security checkpoints in response to the shooting of a TSA employee at Los Angeles International Airport last year. 

The agency said in a list of recommendations that was released on Wednesday that the police presence at airport security checkpoints should be beefed up to make TSA agents feel more secure.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Seeking to be responsive to concerns raised by stakeholders but sensitive to the importance of creating a more visible law enforcement presence, the agency issued recommended standards which call for an increased [law enforcement officer] (or Airport Security Guard) presence at high traffic locations within the airport such as peak travel times at checkpoints and ticket counters,” the TSA said in its report.

TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez was killed in a shooting at LAX on Nov. 1, 2013. He was the first TSA worker to be killed in the line of duty since the agency’s inception in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

The Los Angeles airport shooting prompted some TSA advocates to call for arming the agency’s workers.

TSA agents are not considered law enforcement personnel and are not allowed to carry guns at airport security checkpoints.

The TSA stopped short of endorsing the suggestion of arming their own workers in the proposal released on Wednesday, arguing instead that boosting the presence of airport police officers would deter violence. 

“The recommended standards are intended to provide visible deterrence and quicker incident response time and apply to those airports not currently utilizing a fixed post plan,” the agency said.

TSA Administrator John Pistole said the recommendations were the result of a lengthy process that involved getting feedback from TSA agents on the front lines of airport security.

“Following the incident at LAX last year, which shocked and saddened us all, I ordered a comprehensive review of policies and procedures at LAX and airports across the country,” Pistole said in a statement.

“The report released today outlines the actions TSA took immediately following the shooting and new procedures to enhance the safety and security of TSA employees nationwide, especially those who work on the frontlines each and every day to protect the traveling public.”

The TSA’s other recommendations included:

• Mandating active shooter training and exercises for TSA employees and requiring bi-annual evacuation drills

• Acquiring additional duress alarms to close existing gaps

• Ensuring that all airports have explicit maximum response times

• Continuing to have an increased [Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response] team presence at airports"

The TSA also issued recommended standards to airports for law enforcement presence at checkpoints and ticket counters during peak travel times and further recommended bi-annual active shooter training and exercises.

The full list of the TSA’s recommendations can be read here.