CHICAGO (AP) - Off-duty Chicago police officers are expected to take
security at Chicago airports by Friday, according to a published report.
A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, the federal
agency that oversees airport security, told the Chicago Tribune that the
arrangement using local law enforcement is temporary. But he acknowledged
could go on for more than a year.
Many details remain unsettled, including how much the federal government
will reimburse the city for taking over the security responsibilities, the
Tribune reported Tuesday.
National Guard troops reinforced private security screeners at airports
after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the White House later mandated
that all National Guard troops be returned no later than May 31, saying
airport security is a civilian and law enforcement function.
The security agency is rushing to train and deploy more than 30,000
federal screeners by mid-November to replace private security companies.
agency does not have its own law-enforcement officers to take over for the
thousands of National Guardsmen at airports. In the interim, the agency
requested help from municipalities and state police departments.
Officials wouldn't say how many off-duty police officers will be
stationed at the Chicago airports, the Tribune reported.
But Transportation Security Administration spokesman Paul Turk said at
least one law enforcement officer is required at a security checkpoint
containing six passenger lanes or fewer. Checkpoints with more lanes would
require two officers, he said.
"The police won't be screening bags," he said. "They will be there to
provide police services - to make arrests, collect evidence and do the other
things police do."
The Chicago Police Department has command centers at O'Hare International
Airport and Midway Airport where it already provides various services.
Officials said the police presence at the airports would be broadened under
Off-duty officers who are assigned to the airport checkpoints will
receive training before being deployed, Chicago Police spokesman Robert
The officers will wear their regular uniforms and report directly to
Chicago police supervisors rather than to Isaac Richardson, the TSA federal
security director at O'Hare, Cargie said.
"This is a program still in development," Cargie said.