US Attorney General Merrick Garland wants the Justice Department to go after unruly airline passengers. On Tuesday, he instructed officials to go after passengers who assault the airline crew.
In addition, the department will also investigate related cases that happen aboard flights.
FAA Reports Rise in Aircraft Incidents
At present, the Federal Aviation Administration referred to around 40 cases of unruly passengers. In particular, these passengers turned violent against the airline crew after disagreements.
The agency referred the matter to the FBI for potential criminal prosecution. Since the pandemic started, many airlines noticed a trend.
They reported a record number of disruptive and often violent incidents. As a result, the FAA has pledged a “zero-tolerance” approach.
Accordingly, Garland issued a statement promising to escalate the matter. “The Department of Justice is committed to using its resources to do its part to prevent violence, intimidation, threats of violence and other criminal behavior that endangers the safety of passengers, flight crews and flight attendants on commercial aircraft,” Garland said.
5,338 Unruly Airline Passenger Incidents By November 23
Through November 23, airlines referred a combined 5,338 reports of unruly airline passengers. This includes 3,856 cases related to refusal to wear pandemic-issued masks.
The FAA wants to set an example. Last Monday, the FAA proposed fining a total of $161,823 in fines against eight airline passengers. The charges stemmed from alleged unruly behavior involving alcohol.
An FAA spokesman said the agency had initiated 227 enforcement cases. It also referred 37 cases to the FBI for further review. Previously, the FAA and Justice Department said they agreed to an information-sharing protocol. The FAA can now refer unruly passenger cases to the FBI for review.
Biden Wants DOJ To Look Into Airline Violence
Last month, President Joe Biden sought to address the growing number of unruly airline passenger behavior. He called on the Justice Department to handle the rising cases of passenger violence aboard planes.
This is in response to a coalition of airline companies requesting the Justice Department to prosecute violent passengers last June.
The group included American Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc, and United Airlines. Aviation worker unions also joined the petitions.
As a result, federal officers began taking up cases. US prosecutors in Colorado charged a 20-year-old California man with assaulting a flight attendant last October 27.
The altercation caused the American Airlines flight to Santa Ana, California to make a forced landing. This month, authorities arrested a 32-year old passenger and charged them with assaulting a Southwest Airlines Co operations agent after boarding a Dallas flight.
Watch the 11Alive news video reporting that the US Justice Department will take new action for plane safety:
What do you think is the cause for the rise in violence among airline passengers? WIll prosecuting the worst offenders motivate other passengers into behaving themselves?
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