NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Call it another black eye for the agency that’s supposed to protect airline passengers from terrorists. On Friday, 14 local air marshals were being punished for allegedly drinking on duty — and more.
They have a very important job in this post-9/11 world — protecting air passengers from terrorists.
But on Friday the Transportation Security Administration fired eight air marshals from New York for “inappropriate and unethical” conduct.
Sources told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer the inappropriate behavior was drinking on duty at a Hooter’s bar near LaGuardia Airport. The unethical behavior was asking for a law enforcement discount to reduce the tab.
“That’s just the height or arrogance and dopiness for no other reason at all but for being so stupid they should be fired,” said Rep. Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The eight fired air marshals, including one supervisor and one probationary agent, were on duty but on a training day. Six others were suspended for not reporting the conduct.
“I was surprised at how open it was, how many people were involved and that they thought that nobody was going to report it. They made no real attempt to hide it from that law enforcement,” Rep. King said.
The Hooters drink-a-thon actually occurred in February, but it took several months to investigate the allegations that were made by an employee via a special TSA website for anonymously reporting those who misbehave.
“TSA holds all of its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace,” agency spokesman Nico Melendez said in a statement.
“It’s a very bad image for government and also it degrades from the type of job we expect them to do,” Rep. King said.
The move against the air marshals came just two days after TSA fired eight screeners at Newark Liberty Airport for sleeping on the job.
All the TSA would say about the six air marshals who were suspended is that they were “suspended for a number of days.”
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