Homeland Security to close Air Marshal field offices in 6 airports, including Tampa

TAMPA - Officials with the Department of Homeland Security said the agency is drastically reducing the Federal Air Marshal Service workforce, and closing down the Tampa field office.

CNN is reporting that FAMS director Robert Bray said that six of 26 agency field offices will close in the coming years.  The one in Tampa will be among the first to shut it's doors, by the end of 2014.

The San Diego office will also close by the end of 2014, followed by Pittsburgh and Phoenix, by June 2015, and Cleveland and Cincinnati by June 2016.

Officials with the agency cite budget cuts -- from $966 million to $805 million in the past three years.

And while the reduction of federal air marshals on domestic and international flights is unsettling, critics are also speaking out against the agency's secrecy.  They have not given an exact number as to the number of marshals getting cut.

Before the September 11 terror attacks, fewer than 40 people were in the FAMS workforce, none of them on the hijacked planes.

Following the attacks, the number of air marshals grew exponentially, in the hopes of keeping air travel safer.

Bray said existing personnel will be reassigned to other offices, and they plan to also use attrition to reduce the workforce.  

Bray told CNN that the closures, "will not adversely impact our ability to maintain coverage onboard flights at the corresponding airports."

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