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Airport police support legislative efforts to tighten internal security, with increased screening of employees
Los Angeles, CA, December 9 - The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) supports legislation introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D- FL), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, to strengthen internal security at our nation's airports.
The Senator's Airport Security Enhancement and Oversight Act calls for increased screening of aviation employees and increased oversight of employees' secure access badges. While these proposals are important to enhancing airport safety, the most comprehensive solution to fortifying security at major airports is to immediately begin performing 100% screening of all airport employees, including TSA, and their belongings.
As the AAAPO noted in its 2012 letter to then TSA Administrator John Pistole, the most effective way to keep the public safe is by conducting total screening of every employee and their backpacks, purses, bags, etc. Given that passengers are already subject to these screening procedures, it is within reason to expect the same security standards for airport employees and TSA.
The Russian Metrojet bombing incident, which is suspected to have been carried out by an airport employee, exemplifies the dangers of the "insider" threat. Here at home, in December of last year, a gun smuggling scheme at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport allowed an airline employee to bring guns into secure parts of the airport, while a former airline employee transported the guns on flights made between Atlanta and New York, again highlighting the ongoing internal security vulnerabilities at our nation's airports.
Incidents like the Atlanta gun smuggling ring are possible because at many major airports employees are permitted to enter the airport property via a rudimentary metal turnstile that is located immediately off the aeronautical side of the airport with easy access to waiting airplanes. For example, at JFK, the turnstile entrance point only requires the employee to swipe their badge and enter a code-no biometrics are used and there is no physical screening of the employee or the bags, purses, etc., the employee brings into the airport. Without a nationwide standard regarding the screening of airport employees at major airports, such security gaps will continue to pose dangers to the traveling public.
In this regard, the AAAPO supports Senator Nelson's efforts to improve security at our country's airports and calls on Congress to immediately implement public policy that requires the screening of all airport employees, including TSA.
The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association (LAAPOA) represents the sworn police officers and firefighters of the Los Angeles Airport Police Department assigned to protect and serve Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) and Van Nuys Airport (VNY). For more information on LAAPOA, please visit laapoa.com.
The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) is comprised of rank-and-file airport police officers (including many dual police/aircraft rescue firefighters) who stand as the first line of defense against terrorist attacks, hijackings and other criminal activity at our nation's airports. We seek to promote security and safety for the traveling public, visitors and airport employees by highlighting best practices and identifying areas for improvement and proposed solutions for our nation's airport security deployment. AAAPO focuses on regulatory issues that promote our efforts to provide the most advanced and cutting-edge service innovations and security processes in our nation and the world. Our organization represents thousands of sworn law enforcement officers across the United States beholden only to this mission. We are unencumbered by neither political nor managerial constraints that would prevent us from promoting sound public safety policy.
The founding members of the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers are comprised of numerous rank-and-file airport police officers from John F. Kennedy International Airport; LaGuardia Airport; Los Angeles International Airport; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; LA/Ontario International Airport; Newark Liberty International Airport; Van Nuys Airport; Stewart International Airport; and Teterboro Airport.