FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2014
Tim Kauffman
202-639-6405/202-374-6491
kaufft@afge.org

Union Representing TSA Officers Issues Statement in Response to LAX Shooting Report

AFGE President: "We are deeply disturbed by the findings in this report"



WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement in response to the Los Angeles World Airports' review of the Nov. 1 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, which resulted in the death of Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez:


“We are deeply disturbed by the findings in this report and by what the report fails to address. The lack of incident coordination exhibited in this account is absolutely unacceptable. There is no excuse for a 33-minute gap between the time of the shooting and medical attention arriving at Officer Hernandez’ side. There is no justification for waiting nearly an hour before merging command posts and coordinating a unified response. There is certainly no reason why essential emergency equipment was left dysfunctional, or outright broken. Furthermore, the fact that two officers assigned to the fateful Terminal 3 checkpoint were absent at the time of the shooting is downright egregious.


“This report confirmed what we already knew – that the security processes and systems at LAX are fundamentally broken. The report itself is incomplete and off target in ignoring two key issues: the fact that law enforcement officers were recently redeployed and removed from the checkpoint, and that the two assigned officers were out of position when the shooting began. We believe those issues are critical to understanding the lessons of the LAX shooting.


"TSA and the LAWA Board of Commissioners must take swift action to close the gaping holes in screening area security so it is safe for both workers and passengers. TSOs should not have to fear for their lives every day they come to work. They need to know that when an emergency arises, that panic button will work and an armed law enforcement officer is present at the checkpoint to neutralize the threat.  That is not the case today, and our officers and the American people deserve action.


“The bottom line is this: without a coordinated law enforcement response, functional equipment and police protection on the scene, TSOs in Terminal 3 that day were sitting ducks. With such a blatant lack of support for TSO safety, it is only by the grace of God that more damage was not done that day.


“Reports and policy Band-Aids will not be enough to address the yawning gaps in screening area security. We need to do more than learn from these mistakes at LAX – we need to take the difficult steps across the country that are necessary to stop them from happening again. We need to build a system capable of preventing or neutralizing such emergencies before they become tragedies.


“We are calling on TSA to create a new unit of armed TSA law enforcement officers to defend our nation’s airport screening areas around the clock. This will ensure a consistent, professional, and coordinated response in the event an incident like this occurs again.”

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