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Air Marshals: Utilizing Law Enforcement Officers on Airplanes

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 49 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2001 Pages: 105-109
Jim Brown
Date Published
December 2001
5 pages
This article discusses the use of Air Marshals on airplanes in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001.
The events of September 11 have brought a renewed effort to prevent skyjackings. The Federal Air Marshal program consists of specially trained armed teams of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) civil aviation security specialists for deployment on anti-hijacking missions. The practicality of federally employed Air Marshals accompanying every domestic flight in this country remains unattainable without a staggering cost to the American public. The practical solution is to utilize the services of law enforcement officers who routinely fly to countless locations throughout the country on a daily basis. Federal legislation should be drafted that would authorize specifically designated law enforcement officers to act as “Air Marshals” while traveling for business or pleasure aboard commercial aircraft. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the U.S. Marshals Service would act on behalf of the FAA as the coordinating agencies of the supplemental program due to local accessibility. The FAA would ultimately be responsible for the management, coordination, and assignment of personnel. An approved applicant would be required to complete a comprehensive training program prior to being issued Air Marshal status and capable of carrying out the responsibilities of an Air Marshal. A person designated with Air Marshal status should notify the booking agent that he/she retains authorized Air Marshal status. This individual should not be specifically identified by name or seat assignment until moments prior to departure, nor should his/her status be known to anyone on the flight other than the captain and cabin crew. Current FAA regulations state that no law enforcement officer will be able to carry a firearm on an airplane unless they have completed FAA training for Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed. Police officers who elect to carry their weapons on board commercial aircraft must abide by the Code of Federal Regulations, as well as any regulations set forth by the airline on which they are flying.