WASHINGTON – In the wake of the tragic shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today outlined several proposals that the union believes would enhance airport security.
“AFGE wants to make sure we are doing everything possible to secure the screening areas at our nation’s airports,” Cox said during a conference call with reporters. “The tragedy at LAX was an unfortunate reminder that our airports aren’t as safe and secure as they could be.”
As the exclusive representative for the more than 45,000 Transportation Security Administration officers who screen all commercial airline passengers, baggage and cargo, AFGE has pledged to work with TSA and Congress to explore all proposals to make our airports safer.
AFGE has proposed creating a new class of TSA employees who are trained law enforcement officers. These TSA law enforcement officers would supplement existing Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), providing a serious deterrent to wrongdoers and ensuring immediate law enforcement response to any incident that occurs.
TSA currently contracts with individual law enforcement agencies to provide airport security at the nation’s 420 commercial airports, resulting in a patchwork of inconsistent procedures, standards and deployment of local law enforcement.
“We feel that a larger and more consistent armed presence in screening areas would be a positive step in improving security for both our TSOs and the flying public,” Cox said.
AFGE also has proposed for TSA to install raised protective platforms for TSOs, which would improve visibility and protection, and to rescind the decision to turn over security at exit lanes from TSOs to local airports.
President Cox also spoke in support of the Behavior Detection and Analysis Program, which he called an integral component of TSA’s overall security program. While the program is not perfect, TSA should focus on amending the program to make it better and resist calls from some lawmakers to abolish the program.
“An imperfect deterrent to a terrorist threat is better than no deterrent at all,” Cox said.