The Federal Air Marshal Service is getting “smaller and leaner” but is still on duty to prevent terrorism, director Roderick Allen told a House Homeland Security subcommittee yesterday, reports the National Journal. In March, an air marshal left his loaded handgun in a bathroom stall at Newark Liberty International Airport and boarded his flight without the weapon, an incident Allison called a breach of protocol. He also said the agency is closing six field offices this year but is reassigning personnel to “our most critical” offices.
The last class of marshals—about 400 to 500— graduated in 2011, and the service has not been able to afford to field another class. Although its annual budget is $800 million, Allison said that any extra money has gone toward addressing attrition. Nevertheless, a new class is being planned for the near future. “Not being able to hire has a detrimental effect on the workforce. There’s a sort of feeling of ‘dying on the vine.'” Allison said. “The workforce is getting older. A lot of people that we hired in the beginning after 9/11, they’re going to be walking out the door in 2020, 2021 … That is the No. 1 issue I would put on my wish list.”