TSA sends small contingent to London for the Olympics

The British Government has adorned the Tower Bridge with the Olympic rings this summer. The British Government has adorned the Tower Bridge with the Olympic rings this summer. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

The United States will be sending Transportation Security Administration personnel to bolster safety measures in London for the upcoming Olympic Games, according to State Department officials.

The announcement comes amid reports that a private company, G4S, hired by the British government, is vastly underperforming with its contract requirements to provide security forces for the games, which open July 27.

Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the State Department, said sending U.S. security personnel to the Olympics is standard procedure.

“As part of our routine and ongoing and long-standing coordination with [the United Kingdom],” Ventrell said in a press briefing Tuesday, “we’ll have some liaison personnel that will be in country during the Olympic Games.”

Ventrell said the decision is part of an ongoing dialogue with security planners and is in no way an indictment of the host nation’s preparations.

“We have full confidence in the U.K. authorities to provide security,” he said, adding, “[there will be] thousands of more Americans in [the] country, [so] we will have some . . . TSA agents that will be at the airport.”

State Department spokeswoman Laura Seal told Government Executive there will only be a “small” number of TSA agents in London to act as “on-site liaisons” for the agency’s headquarters.

“The TSA staff will not have arrest authority, nor will they be conducting security screening operations or security inspections,” Seal said. “These remain the responsibility of the U.K. airports and will be conducted in accordance with U.K. government regulations.”

U.K. officials have increased the number of military troops assigned to the Olympics by 3,500, bringing the total to 17,000.

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