On Tuesday, June 18, 2019, several TSA agents were injured at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport when a man attempted to rush through the security checkpoint.
Phoenix police and airport security were able to subdue the man, 19-year-old Tyrese Garner, and arrest him. He now faces charges of felony criminal trespassing, felony resisting arrest and five counts of misdemeanor assault. Five officers suffered minor injuries and one officer had to be taken to the hospital following the incident.
It is unclear why the man tried to rush the security checkpoint, but the incident highlights an important issue for anyone going through airport security. Last year, there were 88 total assaults that occurred at security checkpoints, and in the first half of 2019 alone, there have already been 76 incidents. TSA agents are becoming more vulnerable targets at checkpoints and, as the U.S. economy continues to be strong, TSA is dealing with more passengers in confined, high-pressure environments. The uptick in assaults in highly trafficked, secure areas emphasizes the need for increased security and protection at TSA screening areas in our nation’s airports.
AAAPO has long supported a police presence at TSA screening checkpoints. In the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, Congress directed the Department of Homeland Security to increase the presence of airport police at screening areas. New York Congressman Eliot Engel has introduced bills in previous sessions of Congress to reinstitute and reaffirm the requirement that an airport police officer be stationed within 300 feet of TSA security clearance (a circumference based on the bomb squad perimeter).
“We are seeing a surge in incidents at TSA checkpoints at airports,” says Port Authority Police Benevolent Association President Paul Nunziato. “I am just hoping that another bad guy who wants to make a statement against America isn’t watching and planning. Congressman Eliot Engel, who represents the Bronx, gets the threat and keeps going at it to make sure New York is not once again the target of another terrorist incident. We thank him and encourage others in Congress to see what we are all seeing and get behind this effort. We don’t want the day to come where everyone is asking, ‘What more could have been done?’”
“LAX was named the second-busiest airport in the world this year,” Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association President Marshall McClain says. “With summer’s increased traffic, tensions are flaring. Whether it’s someone acting in frustration or something planned, like the murderer who shot and killed a TSA agent at LAX and continued hunting for more, something needs to be done. We can’t have only one officer patrolling an entire terminal. We need the 300-foot rule. It’s common sense for such a small investment.”