WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration will allow smaller airports to use private security guards rather than local police as temporary replacements for National Guard troops, officials said Thursday.
Eventually, the security agency will deploy its own police force at airport checkpoints.
A security directive has been sent to small airports telling them they can use state-certified, armed private law enforcement officers, Transportation Department spokesman Leonardo Alcivar said.
The directive applies only to the smallest airports, and only those where there are not enough local police available to patrol security checkpoints, Alcivar said.
National Guard troops, who have been stationed at the nation's 429 commercial airports since shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will be gone by the end of the month.
The Guard is supposed to be temporarily replaced at airport checkpoints by uniformed law enforcement officers.