TSA Sends Dozens of Screeners to O’Hare Airport to Cut Wait Times

The Transportation Security Administration is immediately sending 58 new security officers and more bomb-sniffing dog teams to O'Hare Airport to address long delays at security checkpoints.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's office says Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson assured the Illinois Democrat on Tuesday that resources are being directed to O'Hare, an important air traffic hub. Illinois' other senator, Republican Mark Kirk, demanded the TSA administrator resign if delays at O'Hare and Midway aren't resolved by Memorial Day.

In a statement Tuesday,TSA said it will have brought five new canine teams from around the country to Midway Airport and O'Hare Airport by this weekend. Officials project this will help workers screen an additional 5,000 passengers per day.

TSA is also converting 100 part-time officers to full-time, adding 58 more officers and tripling the amount of overtime. 

"As both Secretary Johnson and Administrator Neffenger have said, our task is not only to keep passengers moving but most importantly to keep passengers safe," TSA said in a statement. "In this environment, we will not compromise the safety of the people we serve."

Also Tuesday, TSA's Administrator apologized for the agency's shortcoming and to Chicago travelers in particular. 

"We had a significant challenge in Chicago yesterday," Peter Neffinger said. "I don't know what that was. We're ficing that. That's of great concern to me. I always tell people I won't apologize for doing our job well, but I do apologize to the people who found themselves stranded in Chicago yesterday."

Lengthening security wait times have been a problem at major U.S. airports as passenger numbers increase ahead of the summer travel season. TSA and Congress have cut the number of screeners in the past three years.

Durbin is also pressing TSA to speed enrollment in the PreCheck expedited screening program.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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