Washington D.C.—Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has reintroduced his Checkpoint Safety Act, which would require the deployment of an armed law enforcement officer within 300 feet of each security checkpoint at the nation’s largest airports. The bill has bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House, including Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11), an original cosponsor of the bill.
High-profile security incidents at world airports are on the rise in recent years – from Brussels and Istanbul last year to Fort Lauderdale and Chicago this year. Some current airport procedures allow for the deployment of as few as one law enforcement officer per airport terminal building, and up to five-minute response times.
“My bill will make this requirement clear, adding security to our largest airports and improving cooperation between the TSA and local law enforcement,” Congressman Engel (NY-16) said. “We can’t ask TSA agents – who don’t carry weapons – to stand up to violent actors. More police presence in these high traffic areas is the only sensible thing to do given the risks facing our country’s biggest airports.”
Congressman Donovan (NY-11), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications said, “The tragedy in Fort Lauderdale just this month was an unfortunate reminder that our airports – used by millions of Americans everyday – continue to be top targets for violent attacks. We must commit to taking action to prevent these types of incidents, and this bill is essential to bolstering security and deterring terrorists. Increasing the presence of law enforcement agents at airports will help ensure that Americans and their families are safer as they travel. I hope Congress will act quickly to pass this measure – we can’t afford to wait for the next tragedy.”
“You would wonder why this hasn’t already been implemented,” Engel continued. “Large airports need armed, visible security at high-traffic points at all times. Not five minutes away, but at security checkpoints, ready to respond to a violent incident in seconds. The Fort Lauderdale shooting earlier this month, as terrible as it was, could have been so much worse. At that airport, armed deputies were on the scene confronting the shooter within 80 seconds. If someone with a gun can kill five people in just 80 seconds, then a five-minute wait is obviously unacceptable.”
Please note this press release was originally published on January 23, 2017 by Congressman Engel’s House of Representative’s office and posted to this website no sooner than 72 hours after initial publication.