TSA Report Recommends More Law Enforcement at Checkpoints

The TSA's review was conducted in the wake of a Nov. 1 shooting that left an officer dead at Los Angeles International Airport

The Transportation Security Administration recommends that more armed law enforcement officers be present at airport security checkpoints and ticketing counters during peak hours after the agency's nationwide review conducted in response to a fatal shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport.

The TSA report is being released to Congress, which will consider an increased officer presence and other recommendations that stemmed from discussions with aviation industry officials, airport operators, the TSA union and law enforcement agencies.

The recommendations come more than four months after a TSA officer was shot and killed when a gunman entered LAX Terminal 3 and opened fire. Two other TSA officers and an airport traveler were wounded in the Nov. 1 shooting.

The shooting prompted the TSA to conduct its own review of security at nearly 450 airports nationwide. It "raised several questions regarding LEO (law enforcement officer) presence at and response to airport security checkpoints," according to the TSA report.

More than 320 airports already participate in a law enforcement officer reimbursement program, adopted in 2003, that provides funds for state and local law enforcement at airports. Most establish a mandatory response time to checkpoints, some include a fixed post requirement.

The TSA report recommends standardizing that law enforcement presence.

Read: Complete TSA Report

"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 LEO (or Airport Security Guard) presence at high traffic locations within the airport such as peak travel times at checkpoints and ticket counters," the report stated. "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."

Whether this will require changes in Los Angeles Airport Police deployment was not addressed in a statement issued by the department Wednesday evening.

The posting of LAS officers at TSA checkpoints on a continuous basis was ended last spring by Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon, who has said he believes it more effective for officers to roam an area rather than being committed to a specific location.

The statement reflected a viewpoint that current deployment is consistent with the TSA recommendations.  Officials "agree" with them, it stated.

"Airport Police Officers currently provide high visibility of uniformed police officers in and around the TSA security-screeening checkpoints and in the ticketng areas," according to the statement. 

 A Subcommittee on Transportation Security hearing -- "Lessons form the LAX Shooting" -- is scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles. Testimony is expected from TSA Administrator John Pistole and Los Angeles World Airports officials, including Chief Gannon.

"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," Pistole said.

Other recommendations in the report include, mandatory active shooter training exercises; mandatory bi-annual evacuation drills; improving Federal Air Marshals notification during active shooter incidents; better equipment and technology; linking duress alarms to CCTV systems; and alternate Local airport emergency phone numbers

Changes specific to LAX were recommended in a Los Angeles International Airport after-action report released earlier this month that was requested by the Aiport Commission. The report, which focused on the emegency response, cited weak links in emergency communications, problem involving care for travelers and training for employees.

That review was conducted by airport staff and an outside contractor included interviews with airport staff, law enforcement and first responders, reviews of camera footage, dispatch logs and 911 calls.

TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez, a 39-year-old father of two, was killed in the rampage. Hernandez is mentioned several times in the 26-page TSA report.

"It remains difficult to comprehend the sudden loss of a dedicated public servant who was simply doing his job in support of the agency’s transportation security mission," the report states. "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."

The alleged gunman, 24-year-old Paul Ciancia, was shot inside the terminal. He pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges, including murder of a federal officer.

Ciancia left a note indicating he intended to kill TSA officers, authorities said.

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