Last updated: 03:31 PM ET, Fri September 25 2015

Obama Signs Bill To Strengthen Airport Security

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 25, 2015

Obama Signs Bill To Strengthen Airport Security

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

With pen in his left hand, President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill designed to enhance security and emergency communications at airports following the 2013 shooting death of a Transportation Security Administration agent at Los Angeles International Airport.

The Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act (H.R. 720), named after the agent who was killed, requires the agency to "verify that all airports and high-risk surface transportation hubs have an appropriate security response plan in place to effectively train for and respond to security incidents when they occur," according to the sponsors of the legislation.

The bill also requires airports to regularly test emergency communications equipment. Hernandez was the first TSA agent killed in the line of duty since the agency was created 13 years go.

According to the Associated Press, an investigation revealed security lapses, including panic buttons and emergency phones that did not work.

“The tragic shooting at LAX in 2013 is a reminder that there is still much work to be done to enhance security measures at our domestic airports, especially when it comes to coordinating our local, state, and federal law enforcement efforts in responding to these incidents,” Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who is chairman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation, said when bill was sent to Obama earlier this month, according to The Hill.

“Developing preparedness in our airports will go a long way in helping to ensure that the traveling public is kept safe," Katko continued. "Improving the response to threats to public safety will allow our nation’s transportation systems to overcome the challenges that were experienced by law enforcement, emergency first responders, TSA, and the public during the LAX shooting.”

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