TSA Union wants to arm TSA officers
The fatal shooting of Gerardo Hernandez and the ensuing gunfight at LAX called attention to a long-running debate over the powers of TSA, whose screeners aren’t considered law enforcement officers even though many of them wear badges. The 39-year-old Hernandez was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the agency’s history. . . .
Both lawmakers and the Obama administration have called for reviewing airport security procedures after the shooting spree. But union officials are already offering a concrete proposal: create a new category of TSA agent in addition to the 45,000 existing screeners. People in the new positions would be law enforcement officers, who could carry handcuffs and firearms as well as make arrests. . . .
But Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), who chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee that oversees the TSA, told POLITICO in a statement Monday that he opposes arming the TSA’s massive screener workforce.
“There are practical, risk-based steps that can be taken to combat potential attacks without arming 45,000 TSA screeners,” Hudson said. He added: “In the wake of this attack it is of critical importance to review coordination and communication between TSA and local police, whose job it is to protect airports, as well as review TSA’s own programs for detecting and disrupting terrorist attacks.”
Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, the subcommittee’s top Democrat, told POLITICO that he would look at the union’s proposal but was worried about the cost. . . .