In the coming weeks, tablets, e-readers and game consoles will have to undergo the same treatment as laptops at TSA checkpoints. All electronic devices larger than a phone must be removed from luggage and individually run through the X-ray. The Department of Homeland Security says terrorists have figured out how to smuggle explosives in electronic devices, which merits the heightened security.
It’s not just explosives that are raising airport security threats. Firearms are also making headlines for the TSA. Since the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting earlier this year, record numbers of guns have been uncovered by TSA agents at screening checkpoints. Between July 10 and July 16, 89 guns were found in carry-on bags at airports across the country. Of those, 74 were loaded and 27 had a round chambered.
Trends like these highlight the need for TSA checkpoints to have a trained law enforcement officer in the vicinity. Given the ongoing efforts of terrorists to bypass the airport security apparatus, a police officer stationed within 300 feet of a screening area would not only help deter terrorists but also provide added protection for TSA agents and passengers traveling through the screening checkpoint, which is the most vulnerable area in an airport.
“Potential threats at TSA screening are increasing with every passing day,” says Marshall McClain, co-founder of AAAPO and president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “The surge in the number of firearms detected by TSA screeners is alarming. Whether people are intentionally or unintentionally bringing dangerous objects into screening, a trained airport police officer should be present to address the situation. Having a law enforcement officer within 300 feet of the checkpoint helps prevent line hold-ups, and an officer can also deal with a situation that has become dangerous.”
“People act differently when there is an officer nearby,” says Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association and co-founder of AAAPO. “Just as people become more cautious on the highway when they see a patrol vehicle, so, too, would they double-check their carry-on bags for prohibited items if an officer were near the TSA screening area. Having airport police near the screening area would make the TSA’s job easier and safer. It is just common sense.”