The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is asking passengers to “remain calm and respectful” at security checkpoints following multiple reported assaults against agents, including one in Denver earlier this month in which a passenger allegedly bit two TSA officers.
The TSA said in a Thursday press release that the Denver incident remains under investigation, with the passenger who was allegedly responsible facing possible civil penalties.
In a separate incident in Louisville, Ky., earlier this month, TSA said that a passenger allegedly assaulted two officers “while attempting to breach the exit lane and is facing state criminal charges for criminal trespass, fleeing and evading police, misdemeanor assault, and resisting arrest.”
The TSA, which falls under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, said that both passengers in the incidents could face fines up to $13,910 for each TSA security requirement violation.
When reached for further comment, the TSA told The Hill that the agency has launched more than 1,700 compliance investigations since it began requiring masks for public transportation passengers during the pandemic.
Since March 1, 2020, the TSA has recorded more than 69 incidents in which TSA employees were allegedly assaulted, the agency told The Hill.
The reports come as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also reported a surge in unruly passengers, with more than 3,000 such incidents already recorded in 2021 as of Sunday and 487 investigations initiated.
Comparatively, there were just 183 total FAA investigations in all of 2020, and 146 the year before.
Several incidents of unruly passengers have gone viral in recent months, with many involving passengers refusing to wear a mask or socially distance.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask in most settings, the federal mask mandate issued by President BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place MORE remains in effect, requiring that people wear face coverings on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation.
In its press release Thursday, the TSA said the incidents of unruly passengers at security checkpoints and aboard public transportation “needlessly interrupt travel, delaying flights and other transportation operations across the country.”
“TSA, in coordination with our air carrier and airport management partners, as well as the FAA, will not tolerate such actions, and may pursue criminal charges and a civil penalty up to the maximum allowable by law,” the press release added.
Darby LaJoye, TSA’s acting administrator, said in a statement, “Passengers do not arrive at an airport or board a plane with the intent of becoming unruly or violent; however, what is an exciting return to travel for some may be a more difficult experience for others, which can lead to unexpected, and unacceptable, behaviors.”
The TSA on Thursday also announced plans to resume its Crew Member Self-Defense (CMSD) training in early July after it was previously postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“While it is our hope that flight crew members never have need for these tactics, it is critical to everyone’s safety that they be well-prepared to handle situations as they arise,” LaJoye said.