LOS ANGELES (AP) — The head of the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday his agency has officially rejected arming officers in response to a November attack at Los Angeles International Airport.
John Pistole made the comments after a news conference to announce the opening of a "pre-check" application site for expedited screening at LAX.
TSA union officials have called for creating armed officers from the agency to ensure safety at screening checkpoints. But Pistole said virtually every issue is on the table except for arming officers. Introducing more guns is not the solution, he said.
J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees representing 45,000 TSA employees, expressed disappointment Thursday, calling Pistole's statement premature given ongoing investigations.
The agency is conducting a review of the shooting that left one officer dead. Authorities say Paul Ciancia opened fire with an assault rifle in an attack targeting the TSA that also wounded two officers and a passenger.
The TSA review is separate from an ongoing investigation into the shooting.
Pistole said the agency's review will focus on changes to improve communication between the TSA and local law enforcement. It will also look at the response time of airport police, the placement and effectiveness of panic alarms, and whether there are good communication protocols and equipment in place for emergencies.
The Associated Press has reported that as terrified travelers dived for cover, TSA officers — who are unarmed — fled the screening area without hitting a panic button or using a landline to call for help. Meanwhile, the two armed airport police officers assigned to protect the terminal had left for breaks minutes before the gunfire and so were unaware of the shooting.