Shooting at DFW Airport Raises Questions on Prisoner Transport Rules On Commercial Flights

A shooting at DFW airport involving a prisoner in transit and an accompanying officer raises questions on rules governing the transport of prisoners on commercial flights.

Here is the timeline of events:

Though thankfully, there were no injuries of standers-by the question in this case is why the prisoner was only escorted by one officer. According to FAA Part 1544.221, the regulation governing the transport of prisoners under the control of armed law enforcement officers, to qualify for one escort the prisoner must have been classified as low-risk and the flight must have been shorter than 4 hours:

(c) No aircraft operator may carry a prisoner in the custody of an armed law enforcement officer aboard an aircraft for which screening is required unless, in addition to the requirements in §1544.219, the following requirements are met:

1) The agency responsible for control of the prisoner has determined whether the prisoner is considered a high risk or a low risk.

(2) Unless otherwise authorized by TSA, no more than one high risk prisoner may be carried on the aircraft.

(d) No aircraft operator may carry a prisoner in the custody of an armed law enforcement officer aboard an aircraft for which screening is required unless the following staffing requirements are met:

(1) A minimum of one armed law enforcement officer must control a low risk prisoner on a flight that is scheduled for 4 hours or less. One armed law enforcement officer may control no more than two low risk prisoners.

(2) A minimum of two armed law enforcement officers must control a low risk prisoner on a flight that is scheduled for more than 4 hours. Two armed law enforcement officers may control no more than two low risk prisoners.

That only one officer escorted the prisoner would indicate the prisoner had been classified as “low-risk,” though this low-risk prisoner was evidently capable of causing a violent confrontation.

Flight Chic has reached out to TSA, FAA and DFW airport for comment and is awaiting a reply. 

According to the TSA’s published guidelines:

The Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service maintains oversight of the Law Enforcement Officers flying armed program under Title 49 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) § 1544.219 Carriage of Accessible Weapons.

To qualify to fly armed, Federal Regulation states that an officer must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be a Federal Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) or a full-time municipal, county, or state LEO who is a direct employee of a government agency.

  • Be sworn and commissioned to enforce criminal statutes or immigration statutes.

  • Be authorized by the employing agency to have the weapon in connection with assigned duties.

  • Have completed the training program, ‘‘Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed.”

Featured Image: DFW Airport Aerial View/DFW

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