Slain TSA Officer Honored
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Mar 01, 2015
It was recently revealed that Congress, as a whole,
has an approval rating of about 12 percent. I
think that number is greatly exaggerated, but that
doesn’t mean one or two of the members of Congress
won’t do something right, once in a while.
The House recently passed legislation intended to
enhance security at U.S. Airports.
One bill, the Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security
Act (H.R. 720) would require TSA to verify that all
airports have adequate emergency plans to deal with
shooting attacks. Hernandez, a TSA employee, was
shot and killed at Los Angeles International Airport
during a November 2013 incident.
The second bill (H.R. 719) will require TSA criminal
investigators to spend at least 50 percent of their
time investigating, apprehending or detaining people
suspected of committing a crime.
Currently, TSA investigators do not have to meet
a 50 percent requirement, even though they receive
higher compensation than their peers at the agency,
because they are considered law enforcement officers.
H.R. 719 is sponsored by Rep. John Katko (RNY
and chairman of the House Homeland Security
subcommittee on transportation security), citing the
LAX incident as an example of why airports need to
be prepared. He said everyone within the airport community
from law enforcement and emergency medical
personnel, including airport and airline staff, must
know how to respond to an active shooter or any other
threat inside airport property.
The plans would include strategies for evacuating
people within the airport’s perimeter, how to coordinate
with law enforcement and firefighters, and a
schedule for testing and training airport workers to
use emergency communication equipment.
“The threats to our nation’s airports are ceaseless
and constantly evolving,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice
(D-NY). “There could be another attack on any given
day at any given airport. We must assume that it will
happen. We must be prepared. We must do better.”
In a press release from Katko, he said the subcommittee
discussion “stemmed from security breaches in
which loaded firearms were brought onto commercial
airplanes by employees with airport access privileges.”
“In light of that hearing, these bills provide a
thoughtful response to create safer airports across
our country by improving upon nationwide security
protocols and facilitating commonsense TSA reform
to save taxpayer dollars,” said Katko.
Speaking of TSA finances, a summary of monies
spent for this budget year includes $5.2 million to the
Federal Air Marshal Service, which effectively lifts a
hiring freeze from several years ago. In order to remediate
known vulnerabilities, $2.9 million will be
spent for high-risk TSA systems, which is intended to
strengthen network security across the department by
fiscal 2017. Because TSA is part of the Department of
Homeland Security, $2.8 million has been earmarked
to support the DHS Watchlist Service. This service
provides a gateway of data from the Terrorist Screening
Center to the department.
Airport security is a must have these days. Airport
security is everyone’s responsibility from airport executives
to the janitor. I believe people flying should
be aware of their surroundings and vigilant to activity
around them. Not to be paranoid, but safety and
security is everyone’s business.
More has to be done.
Serial stowaway Marilyn Jena Hartmen has been
caught again, traveling for free. She is known for repeatedly
getting on flights in California and Arizona
without a ticket. What is more disturbing is she is getting
by TSA screening, without a ticket. She is getting
on board a plane, without a ticket.
Hartman’s latest travel schedule begins in Minnesota,
ending in Jacksonville, Fla. She traveled without
a plane ticket, and went to the Omni Amelia Island
Plantation. She has been charged with fraud and impersonation,
defrauding an innkeeper, and trespassing.
She now has a complimentary room at the Nassau
Hartman was only discovered when the person
actually renting the room checked into the resort.
She has pleaded no contest to the charges at LAX,
and said outside the courtroom, “I don’t think it’s
wise to say how I got through. I don’t want to help
TSA has issues to address, and maybe with this
vote of confidence from members of the House, it
will put things back into perspective. Travelers need
to have the proper credentials, and a plane ticket, to
get past airport security.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Security Today.