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Washington Beat: Congress Holds Hearing On Airport Security Policies

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TWC News: Washington Beat: Congress Holds Hearing On Airport Security Policies
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Members of Congress on Thursday took a closer look at airport security policies in the wake of this month's shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

Four minutes. That's how long it took police to respond to the fatal shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Although members of the House subcommittee praised the overall emergency response, they said that it could and should have come more quickly.

"Four minutes in a time like this is a long time," said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas. "With 150 rounds is a very long time. It's extraordinary that more lives were not taken. It's a miracle that that didn't happen and we thank God that didn't happen on that day."

Officials blamed a communications breakdown between police and the TSA in the moments after a gunman opened fire inside LAX, killing a TSA agent and wounding several others.

Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina: Would you agree that the communication issue is one that you need to review?
John Pistole, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration: Yes.

Pistole, the head of the TSA said that at some small or rural airports, the agreed upon emergency response times can be 15 minutes or longer. The procedures are currently under review.

The committee members also pressed the TSA chief for answers on a program that teaches agents how to spot suspicious behavior.

This week, the government accountability office released a report saying the TSA spent nearly $1 billion on a program without proof that it even works.

Some lawmakers have called for a cut in funding, but the head of the TSA said that the SPOT program is a critical security layer that can detect signals that can't be picked up by metal detectors.

"So de-funding the program is not the answer," Pistole said. "I would just say, if we did that, if Congress did that, what I could envision is, there would be fewer passengers going through expedited screening, there'd increased pat-downs, there'd be longer lines, and there would be more frustration by the traveling public."

A traveling public caught in the balance between safety and convenience.

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