LOS ANGELES, CA – With the summer travel season nearly upon us, Transportation Security Authority (TSA) screening checkpoint wait times are expected to increase exponentially due to screener staffing shortages. The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers’ Association (LAAPOA) believes these concerns are best addressed by TSA re-assigning its Behavior Detection Officers (BDO) and Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) agents to screening duty, and by repurposing TSA funds from the BDO and VIPR programs to hire additional TSA screening agents to help ease the long lines at the screening area.
The passenger and baggage screening work the TSA conducts serves a critical function among the layers within the airport security apparatus and play a key role in ensuring safety at airports. However, in recent years, TSA has strayed from its core mission of screening and has attempted to conduct more law enforcement-type activities—duties which its agents are not adequately trained to perform and which have shown to not be successful, such is the case with the BDO and VIPR programs.
The TSA must remain focused on its primary function of efficiently screening passengers and baggage. As TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger noted during last week’s hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “TSA is not a law enforcement agency.” LAAPOA could not agree more. TSA must concentrate its efforts on screening, and leave law enforcement functions to airport police.
The Brussels airport bombing highlighted that airports continue to be a priority target for those seeking to do harm. Thus, it is necessary to keep the TSA screening area streamlined and shorten the waiting time at its checkpoints, as having crowded lines full of passengers creates not only a safety hazard to travelers, but a target rich environment for those seeking to do harm. In this regard, LAAPOA encourages fortifying security at checkpoints by having an airport police officer stationed within 300 feet of the screening area.
“The lengthy wait times that are forecasted for screening checkpoints this summer pose a security risk,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “This is extremely troubling given that airports continue to be high profile targets for terror. We must take all reasonable steps to help speed the screening process. Chief among them would be to have TSA assign its BDO and VIPR agents to conduct screening work and repurpose funds from these programs for screening. Furthermore, we must also take all reasonable precautions to bolster security at the screening checkpoint—among which would be to have an airport police officer stationed within 300 feet of this area.”