TSA Cuts Change Security Practice, Pass Financial Burden To OKC Airport
OKLAHOMA CITY - TSA budget cuts at Will Rogers World Airport have city officials looking for new ways to keep travelers safe. Two key areas of the city's largest commercial airport are being targeted by the federal government as a way to save money, according to city officials.
The change is with exit points. Currently, TSA agents guard the concourse exit areas, but the agency tells airport officials that's all about to change. In two months, the agents in the blue shirts will step aside to make room for new guards at exit points.
"We were surprised by that initiative because, historically since 9-11, the Transportation Security Administration has always staffed the exit lanes," Oklahoma City Airports Director Mark Kranenburg said.
The move will affect every U.S. commercial airport where agents still guard exits. That's expected to save the agency $88.1 million a year. Individual airports will soon be expected to hire security for its exit points.
"We're asking the TSA, ‘why are you doing this,'" said Kranenburg. "It's basically an unfunded mandate that we're being hit with now."
Officials say the city-owned airport will need to come up with an extra $190,000 a year to staff the two exit points with private security guards or police officers.
"You don't know what kind of guidelines they're going to adhere to," traveler Gloria Burden said. "Everything is going to be different."
TSA says it has no plans to lay off agents by focusing its efforts strictly on security screening. Up the Turnpike, at Tulsa International, officials there say the change may force them to close an exit lane. The results of the initiative are expected to be seen starting January 1, 2014.
Airports across the country are fighting the new initiative. Kranenburg says there is currently a push in Congress to prevent the change.