Inside Look at Federal Air Marshal Training - NBC 6 South Florida

Inside Look at Federal Air Marshal Training

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    The Federal Air Marshal Service is tasked with protecting American travelers-- chances are you could be sitting next to one your next flight and never know it.

    (Published Friday, Feb. 17, 2017)

    We all remember the deadly airport attack that happened here South Florida last month-- and officers from all over responded. Among them was an agency that isn't always talked about— the Federal Air Marshal Service, adding a layer of security to keep you safe.

    "The highest proficiency of marksmanship standards of any law enforcement agency," said Ernest Delgrosso. "37,000 feet, 500 miles per-hour, there's no opportunity to miss.

    The Federal Air Marshal Service is tasked with protecting American travelers— chances are you could be sitting next to one your next flight and never know it.

    "Hopefully you won't know we're there and what's we strive for," Delgrosso said.

    Ernest J. Delgrosso is the assistant special agent in charge out the agency's Miami office.

    "The mission of the Federal Air Marshal Service is to detect, deter and defeat any hostile acts targeting the nation's civil aviation," he said.

    NBC 6 was given an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how air marshals keep us safe.

    They've have been around for more than 50 years but fewer than 50 air marshals existed on 911— that changed following the attacks.

    "After September 11th, the air marshall service became what it is today," he said.

    Today there are thousands of men and women in the agency who quietly cris-cross the skies everyday.

    "Our primary focus is to remain in that sort of anonymous capacity... until that time comes," Delgrosso explains.

    That time has only come once, according to officials here in South Florida, when air marshals shot and killed a man at Miami International Airport who claimed to have a bomb and ignored commands to get on the ground.

    "The air marshal serves as that critical layer of security that will ensure that, you know, our loved ones do make it to where they want to go," he said.

    Delgrosso said the agency, which is now part of TSA, is more intelligence based than ever— working closely with other federal and local law enforcement.

    There are also highly visible teams positioned in airports.

    It's a thankless job where men and women ready to respond any threat, even explosives at a moments notice.

    "As long as there are people and groups out there to continue to target our nations aviation systems, the federal air marshals will always be there and we won't rest until this job is done, however long that takes."

    The Trump administration has called for federal law enforcement hiring— it's unclear yet if that will translate into more federal air marshals.

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