Feds Shift Gears on Airport Security Cuts

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The federal Transportation Security Administration already is saying that it will scale back on deep cuts announced Wednesday in the screener workforce at Chicago’s Midway Airport and consider doing the same at O’Hare International Airport. City aviation officials had complained that waits at passenger checkpoints would soar because of the cuts,

the Chicago Tribune reports.

The federal agency, created after the terrorist attacks in September 2001, unveiled plans to eliminate 6,000 screener jobs nationwide–including 302 at Chicago’s airports–and no longer require law-enforcement officers to be posted at every checkpoint. Instead, a smaller armed police contingent would be assigned to patrol airport terminals.

But there’s a catch, the Tribune says. The security agency, under congressional pressure to pare the roster of more than 55,000 screeners on its payroll, wants to renegotiate how much it will pay for the additional roving police patrols that it is required to provide at airports under anti-terrorism laws enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks. “We will negotiate that airport by airport,” Michael Robinson, the security agency’s assistant administrator for aviation operations, said yesterday at O’Hare.

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