Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bill Could Keep Local Police at Airports

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bill Could Keep Local Police at Airports

Article excerpt

Legislation is pending in the House of Representatives that could permanently shift federal airport law enforcement responsibilities to local government.

The precedent-setting move could give the power to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to assign local law enforcement officers to carry out federal security functions at the nation's commercial airports and shift the costs and liability associated with the function to local government.

On October 2, the House Aviation Subcommittee, Chaired by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), approved the Aviation Industry Stabilization and Reform Act of 2002 (HR 5506), which contains language that would delete the word Federal before the reference to law enforcement in the federal security deployment section of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (P.L 107-71). ATSA was signed into law last fall and established the TSA to federalize airport security.

Cities are concerned that deletion of the word Federal before law enforcement could create a permanent federal unfunded mandate on local government to provide local law enforcement for airport security. Additionally, many communities are concerned about police staffing issues if cities are expected to take over the full time law enforcement duties at airports.

Earlier this year, NLC opposed a mandate by the TSA to order Local Law Enforcement (LEOs) to replace the National Guard at airport screening checkpoints. The TSA agreed to reimburse local governments for the function and deputize LEOs as federal law enforcement because the use of LEOs was to be a temporary, interim need until the TSA could deploy Federal Law Enforcement, as required by ATSA. …

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