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Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California

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Homeland shutdown, if it happens, isn't likely to disrupt security

February 25, 2015
In The News

Local authorities don’t anticipate security risks or disruptions in travel at area airports or the Los Angeles area port complex if there is a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.

Transportation Security Administration workers who handle airport screening at John Wayne Airport and Los Angeles International Airport are considered “essential employees” and would not be subject to furlough.

So expect security operations at John Wayne to continue as usual, Jenny Wedge, the airport’s manager of public relations, said Wednesday.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which provides security at John Wayne, also doesn’t foresee any fallout outside of possible delays in grants and some other federal funding to its Emergency Management Division.

Rep. Norma Torres, a Pomona Democrat whose district is primarily in San Bernardino County, warned that a shutdown could delay the distribution of millions of dollars of grant money to fire departments throughout California, including Anaheim and Newport Beach.

At the Port of Long Beach, Director of Security Services Randy D. Parsons said he’s talking regularly with security officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Port of Los Angeles.

It’s not like this is the first time government shutdown threats have stirred the waters.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been down this road before,” Parsons said, referring to previous federal budget cliffhangers and the more recent sequestration cuts. “Everyone has plans in place should something happen.”

The ports were already under heightened security awareness because of the shipping vessels anchored offshore while labor negotiations dragged on, said Parsons, a former FBI agent who oversaw counter-terrorism operations in Los Angeles and also served as federal security director at LAX.

“We’ll be able to roll with whatever punches Washington, D.C., decides to throw at us,” he said.

Coast Guard operations might be minimally impacted, but it’s unclear yet if the customs department will be affected by any DHS staffing issues, said Phillip Sanfield, director of media relations for the Port of Los Angeles.

“We’re in pretty good shape going into this should something happen.”

Staff writer David Olson contributed to this report.