(NaturalNews) An investigative report by ABC 15 in Phoenix, Arizona has revealed that for 4.5 hours every day, anyone with an employee badge was being allowed into supposedly secure areas of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport without a search. In response, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a tightening of the airport's security policy on July 23.
Sky Harbor is operated by the Phoenix city government. Until July 23, TSA officials were in charge of airport security only from 4:30 a.m. until midnight. At midnight, private security guards took over and the security policy changed drastically.
Because the airport is closed during these hours, Sky Harbor security would allow anyone displaying an employee badge into the secure sections of the airport without subjecting their baggage to a search or requiring them to pass through metal detectors. According to ABC 15, it also obtained reports that guards were regularly falling asleep on the job.
"I've seen security guards fast asleep where they've not even looked up to see somebody walk through the checkpoint," said an airport source in the news report.
Sky Harbor spokesperson Deborah Ostreicher defended the airport's practices, saying that all airport employees are subjected to background checks before hiring, and that all passengers and their luggage are always screened.
Nonetheless, under the policy announced on July 23, the TSA will now staff the airport's security checkpoint around the clock, and all employees will have to pass through screening even when the airport is closed. In addition, the Phoenix Police Department will increase its presence at the airport.
Paul Armes, federal security director for the airport, has been placed on leave pending a city and federal review of the airport's security policies.
According to the TSA, the changes have been made "to ensure that security procedures at the airport are in compliance with national requirements."