LAX Shooting Renews Debate on Armed Airport Security
The fatal shooting of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer last Friday at Los Angeles International Airport has renewed the debate about posting armed guards at airport security screening stations, according to Time magazine.
Security officials are discussing a variety of options, from arming TSA employees to keeping police officers closer to checkpoints, in an effort to improve security. Directly after the 9/11 attacks, armed officers were commonly posted at airport screening stations, but as budgets tightened over time, airport police became more of a patrolling presence. TSA administrator John Pistole says the agency will review how it works with airport police and discuss overall airport security with Congress.
The discussion previously centered on how close to screening stations airport police officers needed to remain while patrolling terminals and performing routine duties. LAX has about 400 police officers, and TSA officials have said their primary responsibility is keeping guns and explosives off planes, the article says.
Paul Anthony Ciancia, the alleged shooter, has been charged with two felony counts, including killing a federal employee – TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez – in the line of duty. The FBI says Ciancia had a handwritten letter stating he wanted to kill TSA officers and “instill fear in your traitorous minds.” Airport police shot Ciancia four times, and he remains sedated and under guard at a local hospital, The Associated Press reports.