Garland orders DOJ to prioritize violence on airplanes

Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandBiden Supreme Court study panel unanimously approves final report Lawmakers call for investigation into proposed AT&T WarnerMedia, Discovery merger Family asks for better treatment for Maxwell as trial stretches on MORE ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday to prioritize prosecuting those who commit violence on airplanes. 

“Passengers who assault, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel,” said Garland. “Similarly, when passengers commit violent acts against other passengers in the close confines of a commercial aircraft, the conduct endangers everyone aboard.”

“The Department of Justice is committed to using its resources to do its part to prevent violence, intimidation, threats of violence and other criminal behavior that endangers the safety of passengers, flight crews and flight attendants on commercial aircraft,” Garland added. 

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The order also emphasized an information-sharing protocol between the DOJ and Federal Aviation Admission (FAA) that has already led to dozens of referrals for those who committed violence or disrupted operations in aircrafts. 

The order comes after Democrats pressed the DOJ to prosecute more unruly passengers as there have been an increase of incidents during the pandemic. 

The FAA has seen more than 4,600 unruly passenger complaints in 2021, with more than 3,300 related to mask-wearing on flights. 

President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE spoke with the DOJ at the beginning of October about the increase in unruly passengers and how the agency should address it. 

“Scott, I want you to know I talked to the Justice Department to make sure that we deal with the violence on aircraft coming from those people who are taking issues,” Biden said at the time, referring to United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby.