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TSA Union Calls For Armed Guards At Every Checkpoint 603

Posted by timothy
from the more-effective-than-at-the-post-office dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Brian Tumulty writes at USA Today that the union representing airport screeners for the Transportation Security Administration says Friday's fatal shooting of an agent at Los Angeles International Airport highlights the need for armed security officers at every airport checkpoint. The screeners, who earn up to $30,000 annually, have not requested to carry guns themselves, but they do want an armed security officer present at every checkpoint says J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the screeners. "Every local airport has its own security arrangement with local police to some type of contract security force," says Cox. "There is no standardization throughout the country. Every airport operates differently. Obviously at L.A. there were a fair number of local police officers there." Congress may investigate the issue but Sen. Tom Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, says that "there will be an appropriate time — after all the facts have been gathered and thoughtfully analyzed —to review existing policy and procedure to see what, if anything, can be learned from this unfortunate incident to help prevent future tragedies." TSA officials say that they don't anticipate a change in the agency security posture at the moment, but "passengers may see an increased presence of local law enforcement officers throughout the country.""
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TSA Union Calls For Armed Guards At Every Checkpoint

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  • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:10AM (#45324199)

    There are already armed cops (real cops, not TSA thugs) at every security checkpoint I've been to except one particular small airport, where he was in the lobby since there was no room, or nead, between the xray and the airplane.

  • Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:10AM (#45324209) Homepage

    I think this is a good idea. If/when future similar incidents occur, all those that are NOT carrying a firearm will be secondary targets. The poor guy who's carrying is just going to be the first guy shot, giving everyone else a slight chance to duck and hide.

  • Oh sure! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:12AM (#45324223)

    Let's give guns to a bunch of untrained overpaid mouthbreathers with power trip issues!

    What could go wrong with that!

    If they do this... I give it 6 months till the TSA 'guard' shoots some kid for pretty much no reason.

    • Re:Oh sure! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:28AM (#45324359)

      Wow. You didn't even manage to read through to the second sentence of the summary:
      "The screeners, who earn up to $30,000 annually, have not requested to carry guns themselves, but they do want an armed security officer present at every checkpoint."

      • Re:Oh sure! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Joce640k (829181) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:38AM (#45324469) Homepage

        Hint: "Armed security officers" can also be untrained overpaid mouthbreathers with power trip issues.

        All it takes for them to get involved in a situation is a nod from one of the currently employed untrained overpaid mouthbreathers with power trip issues and one of the the newly employed untrained overpaid mouthbreathers with power trip issues will be right there to help.

        • Re:Oh sure! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MrNemesis (587188) on Monday November 04, 2013 @11:32AM (#45326521) Homepage Journal

          I'm sure they'll all receive extensive de-escalation drilling as well.

          *laughs bitterly, wipes tear from eye*

          Hypothetical situation but one that seems all to scarily real now - passenger, perhaps running a bit late for their plane, becomes more short-tempered after perceiving idiocy at the hands of the TSA and makes a snarky comment regarding the legitimacy of TSA employees' parentage. Or perhaps, as has happened before, an outraged parent or sibling goes ballistic at their sobbing relative being groped or any one of a thousand potential reasons for getting stressed out in a security line. TSA rent-a-cop, perceiving a vastly over-inflated threat, pulls their sidearm and levels it in someone's face. What happens next?

          Naturally, even after the first ten innocent people are shot, it'll be justifiable since the TSA can't take any chances and I'm sure any and all official enquiries will put all the wrongdoing at the feet of that parent or overly stressed sales rep.

      • Re:Oh sure! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:24AM (#45324993) Homepage

        Which is an absolutely understandable request from the point of view of the TSA screeners.

        "Look, government policy is putting us in harm's way. We are now targets. We think we should be protected from loonies. Armed guards to shoot any such loonies is one method we might be protected."

        Assuming the TSA checkpoints remain, it is not a ridiculous idea and the union - nominally representing the screeners - are quite right to make this request since the welfare of those screeners is their business . The screeners themselves, however much they may be gaining advantage from the program, are not the ones who have created the policy that provides those jobs (and, from my limited experience with them, those I have met think the program is as stupid as we do, but one does not turn down a job these days). So I can hardly blame the screeners for making a fuss about the need for more protection. However, as citizens of this country, we have other things to consider, such as:

        - Do we want to turn our country into an armed camp with soldiers at every corner?
        - While the soldiers might help protect the screeners, will they themselves just be another target?
        - Are there any alternatives to armed guards (bullet-proof boxes for the screeners, or the ever-popular "arm everyone" meme?)
        - Is the TSA screening program effective and might it not be better just rid the country of the program - and thus the need for the armed guards as well.

        So rather than just lambast the union - and the TSA screeners - for making this justified request, perhaps it might be better to use this as an opportunity to re-evaluate the TSA program entirely in a moment when its supporters just may be more willing to listen to alternatives?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "Look, government policy is putting us [pedestrians] in harm's way[--sidewalks near streets]. We are now targets[--I don't doubt more pedestrians have been killed on sidewalks than TSA agents have even been shot at]. We think we should be protected from loonies[, which is just about everyone, if you're paranoid enough, which is more or less a requirement when motor vehicles are zooming by you at 30MPH]. Armed guards to shoot any such loonies is one method we might be protected [because nothing says safe lik

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by intermodal (534361)

        "I thought it a bit daft, me guarding him when he's a guard."

    • Re:Oh sure! (Score:5, Funny)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:25AM (#45325019) Journal

      Let's give guns to a bunch of untrained overpaid mouthbreathers with power trip issues!

      Yes, I've also wondered about the wisdom of allowing Americans to have guns.

      Sorry, couldn't resist a setup like that...

  • Sooo.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:15AM (#45324261) Homepage

    ...armed gunman opens fire on unarmed targets, and the logical response is to request that his targets be allowed to arm themselves to fend off future attacks of a similar nature. Remind me again why it's practically impossible for me to purchase a handgun to defend myself in California?

    • Re:Sooo.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:20AM (#45324299) Journal

      The California political class went ape-shit when the Black Panthers made a habit of wearing rifles slung over their shoulders back in the 1970s. They're scared to death of proles being able to resist the police.

      -jcr

  • Yes... (Score:5, Funny)

    by trollebolle (1210072) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:17AM (#45324265)
    The solution is obviously... more guns.
  • by voislav98 (1004117) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:18AM (#45324279)
    Maybe reexamine the way mental illness is treated and use the money improve.
  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:20AM (#45324301) Homepage
    Just get rid of the TSA.
  • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:28AM (#45324361) Homepage

    So if there's a mall shooting the solution is armed guards in every mall? If there's a school shooting the solution is armed guards in every school? Every bus station, train station, subway station, park and so on until there's a whole army of armed guards running around? The point of the secuity control is that nobody gets to bring anything on board to crash or hijack the plane and in that respect, mission accomplished. It's not a general defense against a random person pulling out a gun and opening fire, not any more than any other place.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:51AM (#45324595)

      back around 1990 there WAS a mass shooting in the food court of the mall across the street from my office (Perimeter Mall in suburban Atlanta). forget the exact casualty count but there were multiple victims, it was sad but people realized it was an unfortunate isolated incident/not the first wave of an invasion & life went back to normal pretty quickly. I'd bet you a fairly expensive dinner you could take a poll of patrons there now & less than 5% would even know this incident ever happened...

      soooo... shooting happened, people grieved for a few days & nearly 1/4 century later few people even remember it (I probably wouldn't if I didn't work with people who were there) and there have been exactly ZERO recurrences despite the conspicuous absence of a bear patrol - go figure...

      I whole heartedly condemn the shooter, both in principle as well as pragmatically b/c people are already seizing the opportunity to tar anyone w/legitimate criticisms of tsa w/same brush as the shooter ("you're just an anti-govt nut!!!"). I wouldn't have thought it possible but this incident is a significant setback for any hope of meaningful reform...

      • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday November 04, 2013 @10:19AM (#45325623) Homepage Journal

        soooo... shooting happened, people grieved for a few days & nearly 1/4 century later few people even remember it (I probably wouldn't if I didn't work with people who were there) and there have been exactly ZERO recurrences despite the conspicuous absence of a bear patrol - go figure...

        On the other hand, immediately after the shooting there was a huge surge in the number of people seeking and getting Weapons Carry Licenses. So... I suspect that on an average day in a suburban Atlanta mall today there are a handful of armed people. I'm not saying that's what's preventing shootings, but I do suspect that it will terminate any that do occur in the future fairly quickly, as happened last year in Portland.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by argStyopa (232550)

      Eventually they'll get to the logical conclusion that armed guards everywhere are the answer and circle back to conceding that the 2nd amendment might actually be the solution.

  • Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by funky49 (182835) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:28AM (#45324363) Homepage

    In order to protect the TSA agents, the TSA should be disbanded. You can't shoot what's not there!

    • by Agent0013 (828350)
      Yep, that's was I came to say. If you remove the target, then you will not have the shooting. Perhaps it wouldn't be everybody's target, but in this case the TSA people were the target. If you go and make the TSA even more powerful and oppressive you will just end up with more people targeting that very group. So yeah, get rid of the TSA and you get rid of the target for the shooting.
  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:29AM (#45324371) Homepage

    TSA has been looking for an excuse to arm it's people. Watch them try to turn this incident into that excuse. Mind you, arming ex-hamburger flippers will endanger the public more than protect it, but arming TSA goons would be a huge step in proper bureaucratic empire building.

    Want protection from nutcases? Sorry, that's not gonna happen - in a nation of more than 300 million people, there will always be nutcases.

    Want to reduce the target-rich environment that is the TSA checkpoint? That's easy, get rid of TSA and let the airports and airlines deal with security.

    • Also, the teacher's union is calling for smaller class sizes and higher pay. It should surprise no one that a union is calling for something that would enlarge itself and create higher paying jobs for its members.

      Also, it's a really dumb idea. I felt a lot less safe back in 2002 when there were soldiers, most not old enough to drink, at the airport with semi-automatic assault rifles.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:29AM (#45324373)

    What they need to do is fix the real issues with check points. Get rid of the security theater, the 3.4 oz fluid limits, the shoes removals, the body scanners, the biggest of all being the understaffing of the checkpoints that allow the mass lines that would attract a terrorist to begin with and so on. Start training the TSA on real security measures and start teach training them on profiling. When's the last time you heard about an Isreali plane being hijacked - and they let you bring a pocket-knife on board?

    The problem with the TSA isn't the members of the TSA, they are doing what they are trained to do. The problem is that Congress is overseeing the TSA and allowing politics to trump security. It's like getting mad at the IRS when the IRS is only doing what congress told them to do. Get mad at congress for giving them the byzantine rules to begin with.

    The TSA should be staffed by real armed Federal Officers, with real training, and real skills. Start by phasing in the replacement of the current supervisors with real officers and work your way from there. The next thing they should do is follow the Federal Reserve model and make the TSA semi-independent from regular politics so that they can focus more on security and less on politics.

    The day the color codes, shoes removals, 3.4 oz removals and similar useless rules go and get replaced by having the (usually unmanned) additional screening checkpoints getting opened up is the day you know the TSA has finally started to get security.

    • Or at least design the checkpoints to match the procedures!

      What they need to do is fix the real issues with check points. Get rid of the security theater, the 3.4 oz fluid limits, the shoes removals, the body scanners, the biggest of all being the understaffing of the checkpoints that allow the mass lines that would attract a terrorist to begin with and so on.

      Like: If you insist on undressing and re-dressing jackets, shoes, belts and laptops, give the people some proper "dressing room" designed space. Ever tried to undress your shoues while standing up and with no free hands as you are already holding your carry-on?

      And doing that in a queue with some TSA goon trying to make you do it even faster. I wouldn't know of a better nmethod on how to inflict stress and pressure on people. And everyone will snap u

  • by jasper160 (2642717) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:31AM (#45324397)
    I can't wait to see all the negligent discharges that will occur. Unfortunately the fat, child molesting, unqualified meter maids will take out a small child. None of them are LEO qualified much less allowed to look weapons and touch people.
  • by JeffOwl (2858633) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:33AM (#45324417)
    Wait until you arm them. Now 6 year old kids can watch their mothers get guns pointed in their faces while being groped.
  • Protect your own (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:35AM (#45324439)

    If the LAX shooter had been interested in mowing down passengers instead of TSA agents, then armed guards at the TSA checkpoints would have done nothing to protect those passengers. At LAX in places like Terminal 3, the lines to the security checkpoints can flow out of the building and onto the sidewalk creating a massive concentration of terrorist targets. Protecting them 100% with armed guards would require 10 times the number of agents that are currently employed. Providing armed guards at the checkpoints themselves only protects those around the checkpoints i.e. the TSA agents themselves.

    If anything the best way to protect the passengers is to process them from the street and into the secured terminal at a faster pace, which would require a huge increase in TSA checkpoints. This is an inherently parallelizable task, but would require money to be spent. But terminals in places such as LAX aren't designed for such parallel operations. Using Terminal 3 as an example, you enter from street level then go up a flight of stairs/escalator, following an S-shaped path that snakes around back on itself before arriving at the security checkpoint. Once there, there is only enough room for 2 or 3 parallel operations at once.

    BTW last time I was flying out of Orlando I encountered a private company that would sell you the ability to jump to the front of the TSA queue. So instead of building out the infrastructure to better accommodate the passengers in light of having to go through the TSA, the airport grants a license to this company to exploit the frustrations and $$ of the people in the queue. (Which is turn pisses off the other passengers who experience smug people pushing in front of them in the queue and highlighting of how class based US society is).

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:38AM (#45324457) Homepage Journal

    When you treat everyone as a criminal, you shouldn't be surprised when something like this happens.

    And now that it has happened, you can justify using even more force/hiring more people.

    It's a wonderfully self-fulfilling prophecy

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:38AM (#45324461)

    ...we even have a video game for it called Papers please! [papersplea.se]. Get it from steam [steampowered.com] to preview how your TSA screenings will be in the near future.

  • by qwijibo (101731) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:55AM (#45324647)
    After hearing of the guy who was left alone because he wasn't working for the TSA, it seemed like this guy wasn't just out for a killing spree or some anti-government nut job, but had a very specific reason to hate the TSA.

    I can't help but wonder if he was molested as a child and the TSA's enhanced screening procedures set him off. The TSA's official training materials specifically give tips on how to handle young children. It's interesting to contrast it with the training given to parents who participate in cub/boy scout events, so they know how to recognize inappropriate behavior and potential risks from pervs. Having done the scout training first and seen some of the TSA materials after, it really stands out as a how-to program for pedophiles.
    • by scotts13 (1371443)

      After hearing of the guy who was left alone because he wasn't working for the TSA, it seemed like this guy wasn't just out for a killing spree or some anti-government nut job, but had a very specific reason to hate the TSA.

      I've been wondering that myself. The TSA, at least in their normal operation, is annoying but hardly monsters that deserve a vendetta. I'm guessing there's a specific event - something that happened to a loved one or family member, perhaps - that triggered this shooter. I'm also guessing we'll never hear about it; that would be just awful for security, to hear there might be some justification.

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      IMHO it is another example of a mentally ill person that did not get the help he needed. Budgets for mental health programs have been slashed for decades and are less than bare bones in favor for useless programs like the tsa.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday November 04, 2013 @08:56AM (#45324663)
    From TFA

    TSA screeners often face physical and verbal attacks, but "there has never been anything life-threatening before," Cox said.

    Duh! The whole point of the TSA screeners is that they should face life-threatening danger. A bomb is life threatening and dangerous. A bomb that explodes is worse. If TSA screeners aren't going to be putting themselves in life-threatening situations they have no business being there at all. Come to think of it, just the last part.

  • by MitchDev (2526834) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:08AM (#45324787)

    total elimination of the TSA

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Monday November 04, 2013 @09:24AM (#45325013) Homepage

    Don't get me wrong, the TSA are constitution breaking assholes, that do a million times more harm than even the theoretical good they could do.

    But, they are searching people for guns and other contraband. And when they find some, what are they supposed to do? Ask the criminal carrying a weapon to calmly surrender to the unarmed TSA agents (the most hated people in all of the USA), so that you can be detained without trial for the next twenty years and tortured for information?

  • Do not trust (Score:4, Insightful)

    by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Monday November 04, 2013 @11:52AM (#45326801) Journal

    I was taking a flight in 2008. I was in one of those long and winding lines waiting to go through security.

    Someone in the middle of the line answers their cell phone.

    A security guard from across the room points at him and shouts "NO CELL PHONES". Dude doesn't even realize he's being yelled at, so the guard INSTANTLY rips the cordon off, still pointing at the cell phone holder. Is marching towards him, pushing through the crowd, hand on (thankfully holstered and bolted) gun, shouting "NO CELL PHONES PUT IT AWAY!"

    That's who they want to hire-- except they want to give them automatic assault weapons and no oversight

    I haven't flown since 2008, swore off doing so once the rapey scanners came in. Most assuredly will NOT even reconsider with this policy in place.

    Because after all, armed guards in charge of protecting "national security" at any cost will never overreact, make someone like, say, a mother with her child believe she's doing something wrong, make her nervous, then chase her down the streets of Washington and execute her in front of her baby.

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