Dec. 21--In the wake of last month's deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, a local congresswoman has called for improvements to airport security, including the permanent assignment of armed police officers near passenger screening checkpoints.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) also urged law enforcement officials to allow airport police to have access to all airport security cameras.
"I believe these recommendations will play a vital role in ensuring that all travelers and airport employees are safe in our nation's airports," said Waters, whose district includes LAX.
Waters made the request on Thursday in a letter sent to John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for screening passengers at the nation's commercial airports.
Copies of the correspondence were sent to four members of Congress who serve on the House Homeland Security Committee and the transportation security subcommitee.
In the Nov. 1 shooting, a gunman armed with an assault-style rifle entered Terminal 3 and shot his way though the screening area before he was shot and captured near the boarding gates. A TSA agent was killed and two other TSA officials as well as a school teacher were wounded.
Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the attack.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Airport Police Department removed armed officers from the checkpoints at LAX and added them to patrols, ending a policy that was put in place shortly after 9/11.
Critics of the decision, including former airport security officials, said the reassignment of the officers reduced the chances officers had of stopping the gunman. In addition, union officials, who represent TSA workers, requested that TSA officials be trained to carry firearms at the checkpoints.
Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said the officers were reassigned at LAX to make the security strategy less predictable.
In her letter, Waters reiterated a suggestion made by the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn. in September 2012 to the TSA. It called for the location of an armed police officer within 300 feet of passenger checkpoints and the need to increase police access to airport security cameras.
"I am deeply concerned that these issues have yet to be addressed by TSA," Waters wrote. "I urge you to immediately revisit and re-evaluate the proposals put forth .... "
Representatives of the American Alliance for Airport Police Officials said they supported Waters' call for improvements and described them as common-sense measures that will enhance security at LAX and all major airports.
Copyright 2013 - Los Angeles Times