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TSA wants law enforcement at checkpoints during peak hours

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Transportation Security Administration recommended Wednesday that airports post armed law enforcement officers at security checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours.

Photo: The Associated Press

The recommendation was one of 14 determined after a nationwide review of security at airports prompted by a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport last fall.

The 25-page report to Congress was obtained by The Associated Press. Congress will now consider the recommendations.

The AP has reported that the two armed officers at the LAX terminal had left for breaks and were out of the terminal. Airport police decided months earlier to have officers roam terminals instead of staffing checkpoints such as the one approached by a gunman.

The Transportation Security Administration conducted its own review of security at nearly 450 airports nationwide after the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX killed TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez - the agency's first line of duty death.

Paul Ciancia opened fire with an assault rifle in an attack targeting the TSA, authorities said. Two officers and a passenger were wounded. The Pennsville, N.J.-native has pleaded not guilty to 11 federal charges, including murder of a federal officer.

Dozens of groups including law enforcement, airline and airport operators have met multiple times since the Nov. 1 shooting to discuss suggestions to improve airport security.

Report recommendations include requiring TSA employees go through active shooter training and participate in related training exercises. The TSA also recommends acquiring panic alarms for areas for areas were gaps have been identified.

The Associated Press has reported that though TSA officers told airport officials that an officer hit the panic button, there was no evidence it happened. An airport-wide audit of red phones and panic buttons found some of those devices weren't working properly, including in Terminal 3.

A TSA supervisor picked up an emergency phone but fled the gunman. The airport police dispatcher only heard shouts and gunshots because the phone system didn't provide a location.

Because officers weren't in the terminal, an airline contractor called police dispatch directly on his cellphone, alerting officers nearly a minute and a half after the shooting began.

Other recommendations include conducting a minimum number of active shooter training and exercises annually and extending the temporary redeployment of special teams to conduct random security sweeps.

Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, released its review last week that found the airport's emergency response was hindered by communication and coordination problems. The 83-page report spotlighted flaws in various airport divisions and systems that were in place, but didn't single out individuals responsible for problems.

It also made no mention of the two armed officers who were out of position without notifying dispatchers as required or the policy change to roaming patrols months earlier.

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