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U.S. agency wants armed police at airport checkpoints, counters

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration recommended on Wednesday that armed law enforcement officers be posted at airport checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours.

An agency review, prompted by a deadly Los Angeles airport shooting incident last fall, called for setting standards in airports that allow officers at checkpoints and ticket counters to roam rather than hold set positions.

The standards "are intended to provide visible deterrence and quicker incident response time and apply to those airports not currently utilizing a fixed post plan," the 25-page TSA review said.

The report is being sent to Congress, which will weigh the recommendations.

The review by the Transportation Security Administration, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, in part called for increased training and exercises to deal with shooting incidents.

The agency also has increased the visibility of uniformed police officers around airport security checkpoints, boosted grief counseling for employees, and shifted specialized security teams to airports, the review said.

The recommendations and responses stemmed from the November 1 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport in which a Transportation Security Administration officer was killed and three people were wounded.

The accused LAX gunman, Paul Anthony Ciancia, was wounded by police and arrested. He faces murder, attempted murder and other charges.

A report last week by Los Angeles World Airports faulted law enforcement agencies for communication lapses during the initial response in the shooting.

The Transportation Security Administration review of more than 400 airports, said that 192 rely on city police and 116 use airport authority officers. The rest draw protection from sources including county, private, state and military security.

About 323 airports participate in a program that gives extra money for law enforcement personnel at airports, the review said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)

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