TSA: LAX Needs an Increased Police Presence on Big Travel Days

A 26-page report has been forwarded to Congress and makes 14 recommendations in light of the Nov. 1 shooting.

Twitter photo of LAX shooting.
Twitter photo of LAX shooting.

Responding to the November shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration recommended an increased police presence at airport security checkpoints during heavy travel periods, according to a report released today.

The 26-page report, which was forwarded by the TSA to Congress for review, includes 14 recommendations, including proposals for improved employee training and upgraded technology, such as panic buttons and alarm systems.

But it most notably calls for a stepped-up presence of armed law enforcement officers at TSA checkpoints during peak travel times.

"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," according to the report. "The agency also advised airport operators that it will ensure that TSA employees use duress alarms only when they perceive imminent danger."

The report is a response to the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX's Terminal 3, where TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez, 39, was killed when a gunman shot his way past security and into the passenger area. Three other people were wounded in the shooting.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 24, is awaiting trial on federal charges of murder and other counts.

"The bottom line of all this is ... that we are doing everything we can to provide for the best possible safety and security," TSA Administrator John Pistole told the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Airport Police Department was questioned in the aftermath of the shooting for having officers roam terminals instead of remaining stationed at security checkpoints. The department and its chief, Patrick Gannon, defended the move as a way to provide better security for the airport as a whole.

Last week, a report commissioned by the city found that serious lapses in communication between agencies that rely on a variety of radio frequencies hampered the response to the shooting.

The TSA report released today called the killing of Hernandez "an extraordinary shock to the TSA community and the public."

"The agency's actions are aimed at seeking to prevent, to the greatest extent possible, a recurrence of this tragedy, while recognizing that the next attack may take a different form," according to the report. "In the wake of the LAX incident, the agency was given an opportunity to identify a better way forward in partnership with industry and law enforcement stakeholders and continued engagement with the workforce.

"The agency remains committed to delivering meaningful improvements to officer safety and security and to working collaboratively with its partners in this effort."

The congressional Subcommittee on Transportation Security is scheduled to review the report during a field hearing on Friday at LAX. Pistole and Gannon are expected to testify at the hearing, along with Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey and J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents TSA officers and has called for arming some TSA agents.

--City News Service


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