Airport cops worry about screeners' badges

June 16, 2008 at 11:34 AM

WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- U.S. airport police officers say they're worried about a move by federal transportation officials to give badges and police-style shirts to security screeners.

Local airport police officers carry guns and have powers of arrest while security screeners employed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration don't and some officers say a plan to issue official-looking badges and clothing to the screeners will confuse air travelers, USA Today reported Monday.

"A lot of cops at airports are not real thrilled about it," Duane McGray of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network, a police association, told the newspaper. "It's another way of saying (to airport police), 'You're not important.'"

The network's president, Paul Mason, said his group worries that passengers will expect badge-wearing screeners to handle crimes, predicting, "There are going to be some growing pains on the part of the (screeners) and police."

TSA Deputy Administrator Gale Rossides told USA Today the agency has no interest in giving screeners law enforcement powers, adding, "We coupled the badges with the communications training to make it clear to our officers that they're there to facilitate our passengers."

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