Just months after discovering a massive gun smuggling operation out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, authorities have revealed a disturbing new security concern for travelers: no one checks airport workers’ criminal backgrounds once they are hired. News of this oversight has raised concerns among travelers and lawmakers alike, attesting to the need for greater airport security.
Over a million people travel through our nation’s airports on any given day, with Hartsfield-Jackson holding the title as being the most crowded airport in America. According to Airports Council International, over 250,000 sky-bound travelers pass through its terminals daily. While working at Hartsfield-Jackson, two workers with ties to Delta Air Lines allegedly smuggled 129 handguns and two assault rifles to New York. The duo have since been indicted on numerous felony charges, but this isn’t the only brow-raising security issue associated with air travel.
>An investigation conducted by CNN has found that most airport workers do not undergo daily security screenings. Surprisingly, there are no federal laws requiring airports to screen baggage handlers, runway crews, cleaning crews, airplane mechanics and other personnel. Many workers are allowed to walk around the security screening checkpoints, with no one checking to see what they are carrying. According to CNN’s report, the only major U.S. airports that screen workers daily is Miami International Airport and Orlando International Airport.
What’s even more shocking, however, is that authorities claim no one checks airport workers’ criminal background once they are hired. Assuming the worker survives the initial background check, he or she may never receive another criminal background check. Is the lack of background checks to blame for the recent gun smuggling operation at Hartsfield-Jackson? There’s no way to tell for sure, but many lawmakers believe it played at least some role in the incident.
It’s fair to say that once an employee survives an initial background check… which gives them access to the airport … they don’t go back and check criminal history?” asked Rep. John Katko, R-New York, chairman of a House Homeland Security subcommittee “That is correct from my knowledge,” said Gary Perdue, FBI deputy assistant director of counterterrorism.
It isn’t just airports that are neglecting to perform criminal background checks on employees. As mentioned in previous blog posts, both daycares and hospitals are also turning a blind eye to their employees’ history.
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