AG Merrick Garland Aims To Prioritize Flight Violence Cases

Bryan Dijkhuizen

Because of a significant spike in attacks and disruption of airline employees, Attorney General Merrick Garland urged federal investigators to prioritize cases involving violence on flights.

According to a letter sent by Garland, the FBI has been tasked with investigating hundreds of instances of violent air travel situations that have been brought to them by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The referrals are the consequence of a system of information exchange that has been put in place amongst the organizations involved.

Within the following 20 days, prosecutors are instructed to work with state, local, and tribal law enforcement authorities to ensure that events are reported to the FBI and US attorneys for potential federal prosecution.

"Passengers who assault, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of critical duties that help ensure safe air travel," Garland said in a Justice Department statement.

The decision comes as the United States approaches the biggest travel season since the coronavirus epidemic started, which is likely to be the busiest season on record.

Major US airlines are operating with fewer pilots and flight attendants than they were before to the epidemic, and with domestic airline reservations practically back to normal, airlines are attempting to do more with less during the Christmas travel season this year.

Cirium, an airline data tracking service, says the number of domestic flights scheduled from the weekend before Christmas to just after New Year's Day is down 12 percent from the same period last year.

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