Another gun on airplane irks rep

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Thread: Another gun on airplane irks rep

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array deadeye72's Avatar
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    Another gun on airplane irks rep

    Another breach of security at Jackson-Evers International Airport involving a firearm being brought aboard a plane has House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson demanding answers.



    In a letter sent this week, Thompson gave U.S. Transportation Security Administration Director Kip Hawley until Monday to explain how a Mississippi Department of Public Safety employee was allowed to bring a handgun aboard a commercial flight out of Jackson.

    The employee, Law Enforcement Liaison Office Director Mike Vick, was stopped by TSA officials in Portland, Ore., when he attempted to bring a gun on the return flight.

    "You put everybody on the plane at risk if somebody who is unauthorized has a weapon," said Thompson, who represents Mississippi's 2nd District.

    "Our goal is to protect those passengers. It defeats TSA's mission if they allow somebody to ride on an aircraft unauthorized with a weapon."

    Vick was armed when he left Jackson, according to information Thompson received, but the congressman did not release the source of his information.

    Federal regulations allow law enforcement officers to bring guns aboard a plane if they are transporting a prisoner, if their mission requires them to be armed when they arrive, or other limited circumstances. But the regulation does not require that anyone at the airport confirm the person flying is an actual police officer or that his or her reasons for boarding armed are legitimate.

    TSA spokesman Christopher White said the agency is looking into the breach, which apparently occurred earlier this spring.

    According to the DPS' Web site, Vick acts as a liaison between the governor's Office of Highway Safety and state and local law enforcement. His office also offers training to local police in procedures for traffic stops, field sobriety tests and recognizing signs of drug abuse.

    Vick did not respond to a message left on his cell phone. Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment, and department spokesman Warren Strain would not comment.

    Because DPS would not comment, it's unclear whether Vick was traveling on personal or department business.

    Officials at Portland International Airport acknowledged the incident but would not release the police report related to it. Airport spokeswoman Kama Simonds said Vick was not arrested, but the incident remains under investigation.

    Thompson said the accusation that Vick took a firearm past security in Jackson is more troubling since security problems at the airport have been so public.

    In 2006, The Clarion-Ledger reported that Jackson Mayor Frank Melton had taken firearms aboard flights out of Jackson and other airports around the nation. Melton was able to fly armed by using a TSA regulation that allows police officers to board planes armed by showing a badge and letter from their department claiming a need to fly armed.

    Melton said at the time that he was a law enforcement officer because, as mayor, he was head of the Police Department. He is not a law enforcement officer. TSA asked the mayor to no longer attempt to fly with his guns.

    Given the publicity surrounding Melton, Thompson, a Democrat from Bolton, said he was surprised to hear of a similar incident.

    "This is a very, very serious matter, given the high-profile nature of what already has occurred at the airport," he said. "For a breach like this to occur again is a problem. TSA had assured me that these kinds of missteps would not happen."

    Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner issued a report in September on Jackson-Evers, noting several problems with the armed flight program, including incomplete logs of who brought guns on flights and why. Skinner encouraged the department to apply greater scrutiny to who was allowed to fly armed.

    Skinner also advised the department to move ahead with a Congress-mandated system to track law enforcement officers - using unique physical traits such as fingerprints or eye retinas.

    White said a memo was circulated earlier this year to federal security directors encouraging more scrutiny of law enforcement documents. TSA continues to explore ways to implement a tracking system for armed passengers, he said.

    The problem is not limited to Jackson. Last month, a U.S. Border Patrol agent was arrested in Houston, Texas, after he used his law enforcement credentials to bypass security in another airport, allegedly sneaking a bag containing 6 kilograms of cocaine onto the flight.

    Authorities said the agent planned to take the drugs to a confidential informant in exchange for $6,000.

    Thompson has asked Hawley to provide him with reports detailing the breach in Portland and explain what the agency is doing to prevent similar incidents in the future.

    Despite past problems, White defended the program that allows police officers to bring guns aboard plans.

    "Legitimate law enforcement officers traveling armed provide an additional layer of security to the American traveling public," he said.

    Local police officers, because of their general crime-fighting training, can be an asset during an emergency in the air, he said.

    Bennie Thompson is an idiot. How could he possibly think that trained LEO's being armed on planes is a danger to the other passengers. At least Mr. White gets it.
    Glock 27
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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadeye72 View Post
    Bennie Thompson is an idiot. How could he possibly think that trained LEO's being armed on planes is a danger to the other passengers. At least Mr. White gets it.
    I think the issue is verification that the LEO is authorized, who they say they are, and have had the necessary training (there is a training course required) to carry armed in the cabin. It is also important that the crew is made aware of armed LEO. Forgery does exist.

    Twenty-five plus years ago, a passenger (who was a disgruntled employee) killed the pilots and all aboard on a commercial airliner.

    Rick

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    Member Array AgentX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bandit383 View Post
    I think the issue is verification that the LEO is authorized, who they say they are, and have had the necessary training (there is a training course required) to carry armed in the cabin. It is also important that the crew is made aware of armed LEO. Forgery does exist.

    Twenty-five plus years ago, a passenger (who was a disgruntled employee) killed the pilots and all aboard on a commercial airliner.

    Rick
    I'm confused. The airline, TSA, and a sworn LEO all have to check the creds of anyone flying armed. The flight crew has to know, and the captain of the plane has to grant final permission.

    Ed: The story above about the mayor flying armed is ridiculous. He's not a sworn LEO with powers of arrest and/or even a verifiable need to carry on board the plane.

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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgentX View Post
    I'm confused. The airline, TSA, and a sworn LEO all have to check the creds of anyone flying armed. The flight crew has to know, and the captain of the plane has to grant final permission.

    Ed: The story above about the mayor flying armed is ridiculous. He's not a sworn LEO with powers of arrest and/or even a verifiable need to carry on board the plane.
    Apparently, that wasn't/isn't happening in some places....and define "checking"...I can buy a badge...

    Rick

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    Not hard to believe, and many forgeries have made it past TSA (my employer's seem especially popular--we actually busted someone with a near-perfect fake last year, luckily not on a plane. He got it on the 'net for $30.)

    Just confused that the article states that it's not part of TSA procedures to check.

    Federal regulations allow law enforcement officers to bring guns aboard a plane if they are transporting a prisoner, if their mission requires them to be armed when they arrive, or other limited circumstances. But the regulation does not require that anyone at the airport confirm the person flying is an actual police officer or that his or her reasons for boarding armed are legitimate.

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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgentX View Post
    Federal regulations allow law enforcement officers to bring guns aboard a plane if they are transporting a prisoner, if their mission requires them to be armed when they arrive, or other limited circumstances. But the regulation does not require that anyone at the airport confirm the person flying is an actual police officer or that his or her reasons for boarding armed are legitimate.
    I think what they are trying to say is is there a data base to refer too and/or does someone call the LEO department to verify...I suspect not.

    Rick

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    Member Array AgentX's Avatar
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    Ah. There is no data base, and it's rare that they call an agency to verify. I do know some FAMs who have been verified, and a few of us have, too. (No one knows who we are...they think we're fakes from the start...)

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    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    I think they should make it simple and pass a law that every legally empowered LEO be allowed to fly armed as long as they are current and have a letter of good standing signed by their chief.
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edr9x23super View Post
    I think they should make it simple and pass a law that every legally empowered LEO be allowed to fly armed as long as they are current and have a letter of good standing signed by their chief.
    Essentially, already there...it is verifying the creds the issue. Devil's advocate...fired LEO takes his badge (or fake one) and letter and decides too....fill in the blanks.

    Rick

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    VIP Member Array deadeye72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgentX View Post

    Ed: The story above about the mayor flying armed is ridiculous. He's not a sworn LEO with powers of arrest and/or even a verifiable need to carry on board the plane.
    This was not the only problem this mayor has had.They will do road blocks around the city and he will be out there dressed up like he is on the swat team or something. When they would do drug raids, he would be there for that as well. I think he kinda has good intentions for cleaning up the streets, but his methods are crazy and borderline illegal. He even had a bunch of teenagers demolish a so called crack house with sledgehammers that was occupied by an elderly person.
    Glock 27
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    VIP Member Array Supertac45's Avatar
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    I think everyone should be permitted to carry aboard an aircraft.
    Les Baer 45
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    Senior Member Array bluelineman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supertac45 View Post
    I think everyone should be permitted to carry aboard an aircraft.
    Agreed.

    9/11 may not have ever happened if this were the case.

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    VIP Member Array hogdaddy's Avatar
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    Brother LEO HAS TO CARRY 24/7

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