TSA wants police at airport checkpoints, ticket counters

A ticket counter at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon.
A ticket counter at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon.

ASHWAUBENON - Armed police officers could soon be on guard at U.S. airports.

The Transportation Security Administration recommends armed law enforcement be posted at checkpoints and ticket counters during peak travel times. The suggestion comes after a review of last November's deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

A TSA agent was killed. Two other agents and a passenger were wounded.

TSA agents don't carry guns. When a criminal matter comes up at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon, they call local law enforcement.

The TSA report specifically says its agents should not be armed, but would it be practical and beneficial to add armed police at airports?

Chris Alexander of Charlotte, N.C., and Scott Daul of Green Bay each fly every week. They have different views on a security increase.

"I think that would be a very good idea, just because if something happens, you want someone there who can react quickly and protect us," said Alexander.

"I think it'd be unnecessary, in my opinion. I feel safe right now, and again I'm a frequent flyer and it seems like it's too much," said Daul.

Just like any airport, the security plan at Austin Straubel is classified. However, airport officials can say their action plan does include a quick response from armed security.

Officials could not say where that security is stationed, but on Thursday morning, armed officers were not visible at security checkpoints or ticket counters.

Brown County Supervisor Patrick Buckley agrees with the TSA. He believes the county sheriff's department should increase its presence at the airport and pay for at least part of it.

"What would be the response time on a snowy, rainy day? For the last four years, I've actually raised that question on a number of different occasions," said Buckley.

Fellow board supervisor Bill Clancy believes the airport's current security and training is appropriate.

"You never have enough. You can have all the security in the world and something could happen, but I think we have enough preventative staff out there to handle the situation," said Clancy.

The recommendation is one of 14 listed in a report to Congress. The TSA also suggests its employees should be required to train for an active shooter incident.

The TSA's report will be presented to lawmakers Friday during a congressional hearing. These are only recommendations and would not mean required changes at the nation's airports.