The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) congratulates former Coast Guard Vice Commandant David Pekoske on his confirmation to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Transportation safety is of the utmost importance, and AAAPO looks forward to working with Administrator Pekoske to improve the security apparatus at our nation’s airports.
During his confirmation hearings, Administrator Pekoske noted that local law enforcement is “absolutely critical” to the TSA’s mission, and AAAPO also believes the TSA is absolutely critical to the mission of airport police officers. TSA’s original purpose — to screen passengers and baggage — is an important function among the layers of airport security. TSA must focus its efforts on providing the best training, equipment and support to give American airports the best passenger and baggage screening system in the world.
Under previous administrations and leadership, TSA mismanagement and mission creep have placed traveler safety at risk. TSA strayed to non-screening functions, such as Behavior Detection Officers, TSA-led Explosive Detection Canine Teams, and Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response programs, which diverted valuable resources and proved to be ineffective in promoting public safety. AAAPO is hopeful that Administrator Pekoske will refocus TSA on its primary objective of screening travelers and bags, and support common-sense safety precautions such as stationing a police officer near TSA screening, providing airport police with real-time accessibility to CCTV footage and screening all airport employees.
“We look forward to working with Administrator Pekoske to address and fortify the current security gaps at our airports,” says Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association and co-founder of AAAPO. “Our men and women patrol the nation’s airports day in and day out, so we have a unique vantage point on improving airport security. In fact, with many of the suggestions we have offered — including stationing a police officer within 300 feet of the screening area and airport police having real-time access to cameras at airports — it is quite possible that the November 2013 LAX shooting could have been mitigated or the threat lessened. Why wouldn’t the TSA err on the side of caution and at least implement some of these proposals?”
“We welcome Administrator Pekoske to the TSA, and we hope that he will re-evaluate many of the inefficient and ineffective policies put forth by previous management leaders and give careful consideration to the recommendations of local airport law enforcement officers,” says Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association and co-founder of AAAPO. “With his experience in the Armed Forces, we hope the new administrator will impose discipline at the agency and instate fundamental reform — such as distinct lines of responsibilities and strong chains of command. As police officers, structure, rules and clear roles of authority are in our DNA and are core elements under which we thrive. The TSA can’t continue its business as usual, given the evolving threat to our airports.”