LOS ANGELES – Due to increased attacks targeting airports, the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) is asking U.S. lawmakers to support legislation, HR 5720—The Checkpoint Safety Act of 2016, that would require an armed police officer within 300 feet of TSA screening checkpoints at major airports. We are calling on Congress to support legislation that will secure American airports.
Yesterday, Paul Ciancia, the gunman who opened fire in November 2013 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), killing one TSA officer and injuring three others, plead guilty to all pending federal charges. Inside the terminal, he repeatedly fired shots at airport police officers and travelers before he was shot and captured by airport police. Though the eventual firefight wounded the shooter and allowed his capture, Ciancia wreaked havoc at LAX and disrupted travel for nearly 170,000 passengers.
Simple, common sense security reforms can help to prevent, manage and contain future airport incidents.
A lack of armed airport police officers at TSA checkpoints, creates an environment where potential attackers are not deterred from attacking high value targets and may even be encouraged to identify airports as prime locations for future attacks. The message is simple: armed officers within 300 feet of screening checkpoints significantly boosts the security of American airports and gives law enforcement the ability to quickly shutdown incidents before they escalate. Paul Ciancia’s deliberate attack at LAX three years ago should serve as a reminder to us all that having an armed police presence at screening checkpoints at major airports could have prevented the tragic loss of a life of a TSA officer.
“We can’t stand idly by as attackers feel encouraged to target U.S. airports and take more innocent lives,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, and co-founder of the AAAPO. “Let’s continue to keep Americans safe by doing everything in our power to help our officers do their job.”
“Time and time again we’ve called for having police officers be stationed within 300 feet of TSA, but our calls for this simple increase in security have been ignored,” said Paul Nunziato, President of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, and co-founder of the AAAPO. “How many more incidents like the one in LAX will it take before Congress wakes up?”