TSA pushes nationwide changes to airport security
The Transportation Security Administration released a 25-page report to Congress on Wednesday that includes 14 recommendations to improve airport security after a nationwide review prompted by last year's fatal shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities say a gunman targeted TSA officers in his attack, which resulted in the agency's first line-of-duty death. Two other officers and a passenger were wounded.
Some of TSA's recommendations:
-Require armed law enforcement officers at security checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours.
-Make active shooter training and exercises for TSA officers mandatory; airports should also conduct twice yearly active shooter training and exercises.
-TSA supervisors should mention emergency procedures to staff at the beginning of each shift and have evacuation drills twice a year.
-Provide automatic notification to federal air marshals when there's an active shooter; most were notified by phone about the LAX shooting.
-Require weekly testing of panic alarms at airports, add more alarms if necessary, and have the alarms link to security cameras.
-Ensure all TSA wireless devices are programmed with the local airport's emergency numbers. AP reported that 911 calls at LAX on Nov. 1 weren't routed to the airport police.
-Extend deployment of special teams of air marshals, baggage inspectors and others who conduct random security sweeps.
-Require airport security plans to state how long it should take police to get to a security checkpoint when an officer isn't stationed there. The review discovered that 71 airports without officers stationed at checkpoints didn't state a required maximum response time.
TSA considered and dismissed several other changes, including creating an armed unit of TSA officers, allowing them to carry personal cellphones on their belts, issuing bulletproof vests, and assigning federal air marshals to checkpoints at major airports.
The agency also has decided not to pursue installing ballistic protection for the stands where officers check travelers' documents, or putting Kevlar panels, shatterproof glass, ballistic blankets or clear body shields at checkpoints. It also found that adding deafening alarms or strobe lights would incapacitate responders as well as any attacker.