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Quebec’s public security minister says he’s ready to act to prevent high-ranking provincial police officers from having second jobs outside the force. Martin Coiteux says he’ll modify the law if the police force doesn’t move to ban the practice. Media have reported the officer in charge of operations on a highway near Montreal was dealing with a private business matter during a March 14 snowstorm that left 300 motorists stranded in their cars overnight.
La Presse reported earlier this week the officer was at the notary’s office signing papers related to his work as a real-estate broker as the snow piled up on Highway 13. The officer was removed from his duties as part of an investigation into the botched storm response, which caused some motorists to abandon their cars and leave on foot after waiting hours for help. Coiteux says the incident raises questions about whether police who have two jobs are focused enough on their primary role as officers.
“High-ranking police have an extremely demanding job to do, and they need all their attention to do it,” he said Wednesday.
Coiteux said the provincial force is currently reviewing the rules surrounding double employment, but he’s willing to step in if he needs to.
“If it’s a question of a police law that needs to be changed, we will do it,” he said.
It s not just the much-mocked behavior detection gumshoes that will go, but possibly air marshals, pilot firearms training, and other TSA programs.
The White House has called for cuts in nearly every non-defense program, and while the Homeland Security department, which includes the Transportation Security Administration, is in line for a budget increase, most of that will likely go toward the president s priorities: immigration enforcement and building a border wall. As a result, number-crunchers are looking at how to cut TSA programs or staffing without jeopardizing security.
Three TSA programs have been singled out by the Trump administration as particularly wasteful:
One is the Behavioral Detection Officer program, launched around ten years ago to sniff out suspicious persons with observation techniques, in part inspired by the notoriously thorough Israeli model of airport screening (combining passenger interviews with monitoring of their body language.) Under TSA s version, screeners selected for this role spent weeks getting additional training; however, the results were less than stellar catching a small number of passengers for drug offenses and other infractions, but no alleged terrorists. The transfer of the 3,000 officers to the front lines should help ease bottlenecks. But this transition began the middle of last year following the TSA meltdown, and the vast majority of fliers, of course, won t notice any change at all. It s unclear how much money will be saved, but more than $1 billion has been spent on the program thus far.
Of the $3.7 billion currently collected from passengers annually, just $2.4 billion actually goes to airport checkpoints.
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Another item on the chopping block is a grant program to support local police at airports, specifically, large hubs like those in cities deemed likely terror targets, such as New York City or Los Angeles, where they perform patrols and provide added protection to public areas. That will simply shift more of the burden for tasks like perimeter patrols to local governments, and lawmakers from affected areas are predictably outraged. Simply put, this administration s ‘safety last’ plan will not fly, and I will do everything I can to protect New York from the administration s cash raid for the border wall, said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The administration argues that this is a matter better handled and paid for by local authorities.
Schumer also took aim at a third part of the plan, which would eliminate the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Program (VIPR), which deploys teams of agents, often with canine units, to airports and other transit hubs like rail stations. After a 2013 attack on a TSA checkpoint at LAX airport, more of these units were stationed at airports, but the budget document says the results don t justify the expense reportedly around $57 million a year.
Sources say, too, that there could be more cuts to TSA if the border wall goes over budget. The air marshal program, part of TSA, is also under scrutiny, says security expert Robert Poole, a transportation analyst with think tank the Reason Foundation. While details of that unit including how many marshals are still on flights aren t usually made public, Poole says it’s a big operating expense that covers a tiny fraction of all flights. The marshals themselves have been plagued by poor morale, and airlines have also objected to the expense they must bear, since they typically save space for these sky cops in the most expensive section of the plane near the cockpit.
Another related item, the federal flight-deck officer program, could also be jeopardy, according to reports, which allows pilots who receive specialized training to carry firearms with them into the cockpit. Many supporters view it as a way to supplement the air marshals, since they both share the aim of protecting the flight deck from a 9/11-style attack. But cutting funding for pilot training would also reportedly save $20 million a year.
Ultimately, airlines could find themselves funding more of the TSA s functions, as they did last summer, when airlines ponied up more than $50 million of their own monies to add staff to handle non-security chores at checkpoints and for constructing new lanes with automatic bin returns.
The government also wants fliers to pay more of the cost of funding airport screening; and, as reported, the September 11 security user fee will likely rise by at least $2 round-trip, to $13.20 per ticket. (Look at the fine print of taxes and fees on your airline ticket, and it s there.) The airlines have signaled they ll fight to avoid this after all, they re the ones whose fares will appear higher, and who have to collect the fees.
But aviation experts say that won t be enough to fulfill the White House s goal of having the public fund three-quarters of the current Transportation Security Administration budget about $6 billion a year, according to TSA sources. (That would be up from less than 40 percent today.) Of the $3.7 billion currently collected from passengers annually, just $2.4 billion actually goes to airport checkpoints.
- ^ budget blueprint (www.cntraveler.com)
- ^ New York City (www.cntraveler.com)
- ^ Los Angeles (www.cntraveler.com)
- ^ Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (www.schumer.senate.gov)
- ^ plagued by poor morale (www.cbsnews.com)
- ^ near the cockpit (www.cntraveler.com)
- ^ 9/11-style (www.cntraveler.com)
- ^ automatic bin (www.cntraveler.com)
- ^ as reported (www.cntraveler.com)
- ^ airport checkpoints (www.cntraveler.com)
Minister Garneau makes a statement on airport security at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
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