Saturday, March 29, 2014

Phoenix air marshal office closing; Sky Harbor 1 of 6 locations closing

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -  If you are a frequent flier then there is a good chance you've probably been on a plane with an air marshal.

The air marshal service was re-created after the 9/11 attacks.
But recently the Transportation Security Administration says it will be relocating marshals and closing down a number of field offices including the one at Sky Harbor in 2015.
TSA plans on closing 6 of the 26 offices they currently have. Of all the offices that are slated to be closed Phoenix is the busiest of all those airports.

The sky marshal who I spoke to says it just doesn't make sense why they'd do that.

As passengers board their flight and take off to destinations around the country from Sky Harbor, they may be sitting next to an armed air marshal and never even know it.

"it is the last line of defense once you're on that airplane in our opinion it is the most vital layer of aviation security," said one unidentified air marshal.

We spoke to a long time air marshal based at Sky Harbor who did not want to be identified.

He'll have to relocate, that's because the TSA has decided to close down six air marshal bases across the country including Sky Harbor's location in June 2015.

"I'm very confident that the TSA and the people that planned this in their own heads believe this is truly the right thing to do I feel they're wrong," he said.

The air marshal says he's not only upset about moving his family but also concerned about leaving Phoenix the sixth most populous city in the country and one of the top ten busiest airports without a prevalent air marshal presence.

"Sky Harbor is literally minutes from takeoff and touchdown of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generator Station, Luke AFB with the new F 35's program 3.5 million people within the Phoenix metropolitan area there is critical infrastructure right around Sky Harbor," he said.

In a statement from TSA, they say in part: "This will not adversely impact the ability of the federal air marshal service to maintain coverage aboard flights arriving from and departing for the affected airports."

"The TSA has said that the coverage of incoming and outgoing flights wouldn't be affected and I'm here to tell you that doesn't pass the common sense test," he said.

San Diego and Tampa will close by the end of this year, Pittsburgh and Phoenix by 2015, and Cleveland and Cincinnati by 2016.

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