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TSA wants police at checkpoints after LAX shooting

The TSA is recommending to have armed law enforcement at airport security checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours.
March 26, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Transportation Security Administration recommended Wednesday to have armed law enforcement at security checkpoints and ticket counters across the country during peak hours.

The TSA released a report to members of Congress with 14 recommendations. A top priority is the protection of TSA officers. The TSA also wants more mandatory training and exercises for active shooter incidents.

The 25-page report comes after a review of airport security policies following the Los Angeles International Airport shooting last fall. TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez was killed in the agency's first line-of-duty death. Two officers and a passenger were wounded. Paul Ciancia, 24, has pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges, including murder of a federal officer.

While airport security has been beefed up since 9/11, the shooting exposed communication problems and gaps in police patrols that left an LAX terminal without an armed officer for nearly 3 1/2 minutes as a gunman targeted TSA officers with a rifle Nov. 1.

The TSA also recommended installing more panic alarms, testing them weekly, and having them linked to security cameras.

LAX Police Chief Pat Gannon says the recommendations are not "inconsistent to anything that we've done in the past."

The report, however, does not resolve a conflict within the police force. The airport police officers want a place to sit behind the checkpoint. Gannon wants officers mobile, walking the baggage and ticketing area too.

"The flexibility that TSA recommendations still will...allow us to do is to move those officers as we see fit," said Gannon.

Gannon cautions that a determined gunman, such as the LAX shooting suspect, who posed as an ordinary traveler, may not be deterred by the presence of an officer.

Another concern to be addressed at a congressional hearing on Friday is faulty communication between first responders, airport personnel and panicked passengers, who didn't know what to do.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, whose district includes LAX, pledges to get to the bottom of it.

"It is so important to have first responders being able to talk to each other. That is basic for security," said Waters.

Waters, who has criticized the airport's emergency response in the past, said the recommendations were a good first step in addressing concerns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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