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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration suspended a program on Saturday that allows its safety inspectors to skip security checkpoints while on the job, following the arrest of an FAA agent earlier in the week who was caught allegedly carrying a firearm in his bag.
The Atlanta-based FAA inspector was arrested on Tuesday at New York City’s La Guardia Airport, officials said, after he used a badge to access a secure area of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta earlier in his trip and bypassed a screening by Transportation Security Administration officials, the Associated Press reported.
But TSA agents discovered the firearm at a standard security checkpoint when he arrived at La Guardia.
In a statement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta ordered the suspension of the program that specifically allows inspectors to gain access to secure areas of airports and bypass security checkpoints while performing their normal duties.
The FAA said it will ramp up security training of its inspectors during the temporary suspension of the program, which will include requiring inspectors to sign an agreement stating that weapons-related infractions will result in permanently losing the ability to bypass checkpoints, Reuters reported.
The agent is still with the FAA but is performing “non-safety related duties,” the agency told Reuters.
In late December, federal investigators arrested five former Delta employees, including a baggage handler, for allegedly smuggling guns on flights from Atlanta to New York. The baggage handler was also accused of using his security badge to bypass checkpoints.
Andrew Mach is a former Digital Editor for PBS NewsHour in New York City, where he manages the online editorial direction of the national broadcast's weekend edition. Formerly, Mach was a news editor and staff writer for NBC News. He's also written for the Christian Science Monitor in Boston and had stints at ABC News, the Washington Post and German network ZDF in Berlin, in addition to reporting for an investigative journalism project in Phoenix. Mach was a recipient of the 2016 Kiplinger Fellowship, the 2015 RIAS German/American Exchange fellowship by the Radio Television Digital News Foundation and the 2012 Berlin Capital Program Fulbright. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a native of Aberdeen, South Dakota.
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