Baggage Checkers Breach Security at LAX


One dozen people working as security screeners at Los Angeles Int’l Airport (LAX) have been fired or placed on administrative leave despite having criminal records, including felony possession of a weapon or explosive.

The screeners had been hired by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and it’s been the second time that officials have acknowledged a breach of security among LAX screeners since the TSA took over the role of checking passengers and baggage at the nation’s airports in November 2002. Earlier this year the agency fired 26 screeners at LAX after discovering that they had criminal records.

Seven of the 12 LAX screeners have been fired and five are on administrative leave pending the outcome of an adjudication process, said Brian Turmail, an agency spokesman. The TSA “has taken immediate and appropriate action” as the employees have been identified, he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Earlier this week, a list of “TSA employees that were certified by the TSA as not having a disqualifying [criminal] history that the [airport’s] Security Badge Office later determined did have a disqualifying criminal history” was released to the newspaper after a public records request. The employees had been convicted in the past 10 years of crimes ranging from aggravated assault and burglary to fraud and drug-related matters.

Federal law prohibits those convicted of at least one of 37 crimes – including murder, rape, kidnapping, robbery, extortion and aircraft piracy – from working as security screeners.

The revelations come as the city agency that operates LAX finishes re-fingerprinting the nation’s largest screener work force. The effort to recheck about 2,500 federal employees at LAX began May 19 after airport officials expressed concern that not all TSA screeners had cleared background checks. The airport has fingerprinted 2,191 screeners and plans to finish its work by June 20, according to city records. Fifty-nine cases are pending further review.

Other locations, such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, are also redoing background checks on screeners at its three airports after intense scrutiny from congressional officials, who called a hearing into TSA’s hiring practices and an investigation from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General.

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