AFGE President Cox Calls for New Safety Measures in Letter to TSOs

Dear TSA Brothers and Sisters,

It is with great sorrow that I write to you at a time when all of us have just lost a brother and colleague, Officer Gerardo Hernández. He died doing what he and thousands of TSOs like you have sworn to do – keep the flying public safe. We all must honor his sacrifice and dedication to the mission and to his fellow TSA Officers. On behalf of AFGE’s entire membership, our sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends who were closest to Officer Hernández.

Officer Hernández was the first TSO to die in the line of duty in the agency’s 12-year history. This tragic landmark serves as a reminder to all of us of the dangers we face each and every day we come to work. Fellow officers Speer and Grigsby also paid an extraordinary price when they were wounded in the attack, and we stand with them and their families as well.

If we are to truly honor Officer Hernandez’ sacrifice, and the sacrifices of all who were affected by this tragedy, it will take more than the prosecution of a deranged gunman. It will take positive action by TSOs, AFGE, and the Agency to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.

You know as well as I do that airport security today is less than perfect. A patchwork of inconsistent procedures, standards, and deployment of local law enforcement makes it hard to measure just how secure our screening areas truly are. The results of these inconsistencies are clear: thousands of TSOs are verbally assaulted and many others are physically attacked each year. In the face of such attacks, TSOs are left powerless to respond.

If we are to bring an end to the violence against TSOs, we need to develop a more effective deterrent to potential wrongdoers. We believe the best way to defuse a crisis is to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place and to respond as quickly as possible when it does.

AFGE believes that the development of a new class of armed TSA officers with law enforcement status is a critical step to deterring crimes against TSOs and the flying public. These officers would be trained specifically in identifying, engaging, and neutralizing threats in screening and other areas determined appropriate by the Agency. We believe the Agency has the legal authority to create such a class of officers, and we are actively encouraging TSA’s top management to explore the possibility.

As we develop new proposals with the Agency, never forget that your safety is our number one priority. We ask that you support your union brothers and sisters in making our nation’s airports safer for you and the flying public. And, again, we extend our sincere sympathy to everyone affected by the tragedy at LAX.

In Solidarity,

J. David Cox

National President, AFGE

Donor Information:

Two separate relief funds have been established by AFGE Local 1260:

1. To support the family of Officer Gerardo Hernandez

2. To support STI Speer and BDO Grigsby

If you wish to support one or both of the funds, please mail a check or money order written to "American Federation of Government Employees Local 1260" and write the name of the fund(s) to which you would like to donate in the "Memo" field.

All donations should be mailed to:

AFGE TSA Local 1260

PO Box 91356

Los Angeles, CA 90009

If you have any questions about the funds, please contact Local 1260 President Victor Payes Martinez at vpayes@afge1260.org.

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