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Funding for FAMS

March 18, 2014

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman
House Appropriations Committee
H‐305 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member
House Appropriations Committee
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:

As the National President for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), I am writing to you to reinforce the critical need to sustain the proper level of funding for the Federal Air Marshals Service (FAMS). I respectfully ask that you avoid the common complacent trap of concluding they're disposable because we haven't lost control of a plane since September 11th, 2001. Additionally, I ask that you not draw the faulty conclusion that armed pilots and reinforced cockpits negate the need for Federal Air Marshals. Armed pilots are essential to securing the interior of the cockpit, but not the tax paying Americans sitting in the cabin. Please remember, not all pilots are armed, they have limited mobility in the cockpit, and they are still vulnerable to a well‐coordinated attack.

As you are aware, the FAMS proposed budget for 2015 has been reduced by $19.5 million. What does that say about our commitment to air travel safety, and why with the passage of time are we discarding the critical recommendations of the 9/11 Commission?

Nonetheless, the FAMS have indicated they will be closing six field offices (that will leave them with 20): San Diego, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Cleveland and Cincinnati - not exactly a list of anonymous podunk towns. So what's the reason for forcing honorable FAMS to disrupt their lives, sell their homes likely at a loss, and wait for orders to move their families to an unknown location? The real answer is that this bad decision is budget driven.

TSA/FAMS has attempted to justify these proposed office closures by claiming their so‐called "risk‐based approach" compels them to realign their assets. If in fact they had credible intel that warranted shifting assets, a/k/a Air Marshals, to other field offices, why not detail them rather than shutting down an entire office and forcing them to move? Have they considered cost savings alternatives, such as moving the Pittsburgh field office onto a nearby military facility at little or no cost? Also, why has the safety of Americans living in those six cities suddenly become less of an appropriations priority?

There is a video that was made in support of the Saracini Aviation Safety Act, called Two Seconds to Breach. It depicts how easily terrorists can circumvent a beverage cart and seize control of an aircraft. Is this the fair last line of defense being offered to Americans living in these six cities?

I am respectfully appealing to you in your leadership roles, and asking that you demonstrate your commitment to protecting every American at 30,000 feet, and ensure the FAMS have the proper funding to sustain all current 26 field office locations. Simply hoping for the best doesn't deliver the best and tax paying Americans deserve the full support of their Congress and their government. Please remember 9/11, and don't compromise the air travel safety of our citizenry. The buck starts with you, and it stops with the FAMS on planes.

Respectfully,
Jon Adler