Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) in the U.S. continue securing our nation’s skies during the global pandemic, even as conditions for COVID infections are increasing daily. FAMs for years have requested the Transportation Security Administration purchase life-saving equipment, including a ballistic vest.
TSA continues to ignore these requests citing budget constraints or equipment requests are under review. Twenty years after September 11, the marshals have seen an increase in requests for mutual aid, including assisting other federal law enforcement entities, working ground base duties, and responding to critical incidents at the nation’s airports. Union leaders are concerned for the working conditions, both in the air and on the ground. One critical incident FAMs responded to without proper life-saving equipment included the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida, United States, on January 6, 2017, near the baggage claim in Terminal 2. Five people were killed while six others were injured in the shooting. About 36 people sustained injuries in the ensuing panic.
The Air Marshal National Council (AMNC) received documents through a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request from the Federal Air Marshal Service, shocking evidence of large bonuses given to high-level managers. The Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office received a $18,953.00 bonus while mainly working from home, while the rank and file Air Marshals all flew missions during this pandemic. This same field office ranked at the top of COVID infections in the agency. The AMNC has now began investigating how many other high-level government supervisors are being handed huge unearned bonuses and why the request for life-saving equipment goes unaddressed.
January has been by far the deadliest month of the pandemic. More than 95,245 people have died from Covid-19 so far this month, surpassing December’s total of 77,486 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.