Those folks at LAX who wear Homeland Security badges and make sure knives and guns don't get on planes with you don't have much to back them up besides the authority of the United States government.
That's right, Transportation Security Administration agents like 39-year-old Gerardo I. Hernandez, who was fatally gunned down at LAX Friday morning, don't have guns and are not sworn law enforcement officers:
If they have trouble screening travelers, they have to call for help.
Over the weekend the TSA explained that it has separate security arrangements with each airport authority in the country. At LAX, the police department of the city's L.A. World Airports branch provides security.
LAX police Chief Pat Gannon said his cops were on the case of Friday's LAX shooter within 60 seconds. They ultimately shot a suspect later identified as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, a resident of Sun Valley (and not, as we reported previously, Los Feliz).
But today the union that represents TSA agents, the American Federation of Government Employees, called on federal officials to start arming at least some of those TSA workers.
Union president J. David Cox Sr. said this today:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
We want to make sure we are doing everything possible to secure screening areas at our nation's airports. At this time, we feel a larger and more consistent armed presence in screening areas would be a positive step in improving security for both TSOs and the flying public. The development of a new class of TSA officers with law enforcement status would be a logical approach to accomplishing this goal.
Remember, these are the folks who have been accused in the past of getting frisky with their glove-covered hands as they search for contraband.
Will a real badge and a gun improve airport safety?