House Bill Requires TSA to Train Screeners on Handling Airport Shootings

 long line of Transportation Security Administration personnel salute as the Honor Flag leaves Los Angeles international airport after a TSA agent was shot there in November. long line of Transportation Security Administration personnel salute as the Honor Flag leaves Los Angeles international airport after a TSA agent was shot there in November. Associated Press

The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would require all Transportation Security Administration airport screeners to receive training on what to do in the event of an airport shooting.

The 2014 Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act also directs the Homeland Security Department to work with U.S. airports on strategic plans to respond effectively to shooting incidents inside terminals. The plans would include emergency response and law enforcement strategies, evacuation for members of the public, and communicating with travelers during a crisis. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., was named for the transportation security officer killed in the line of duty during a November 2013 shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Congress held several hearings after the shooting. “These hearings revealed serious security lapses at LAX, which interfered with incident response efforts,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, during July 22 floor remarks. “For example, there were emergency phones and panic buttons that did not work properly, problems in coordination between various police and fire departments, and incompatible radio systems. These security failures are unacceptable.”

A Democratic supporter of the bill, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, said on the floor Tuesday that “H.R. 4802 will help ensure that all screening personnel have received training in how to handle potential shooting threats.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would cost about $2.5 million in 2015. “Of that amount, CBO assumes the department would spend about $1.5 million to provide additional technical assistance to airports and about $1 million to evaluate the interoperability of communication systems used by emergency response teams,” the cost estimate stated.

The House on Tuesday passed another TSA-related bill – the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act. That legislation would strip many Transportation Security Administration employees of a designation qualifying them for additional compensation.

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