Washington (CNN) - House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said Sunday that Transportation Security Administration officers at the nation's airports need to work better with local law enforcement to help prevent incidents like Friday's shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.
"The coordination with the local police is key because, remember, TSA officers are not armed," the Texas Republican told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."
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In the wake of the shooting at LAX's Terminal 3 - where a gunman, identified by police as 23-year-old Paul Ciancia, killed a TSA officer and wounded three other people - McCaul said he had already referred his suggestions to TSA Administrator John Pistole.
McCaul acknowledged that every airport is different. But he stressed the importance of taking a more vigilant approach to protecting not only the perimeters of the terminals, but also more exposed areas like security checkpoints and baggage claims.
He talked about the importance of using special TSA VIPR teams, short for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response. The teams are tasked with performing random, unpredictable baggage and security checks at transportation venues.
McCaul said Pistole wants to further utilize such teams at airports "to make sure American people are safe and the traveling public are safe when they go to our airports. I think that better coordination with local law enforcement should help tremendously.
"However, having said that, it's very difficult to stop these types of attacks. Anybody can show up, as we saw in the Navy Yard with the shotgun." He was referring to the September attack at the Navy Yard in Washington.
"It's almost like an open shopping mall," he said, "so very difficult to protect."
Referring to a suicide note he had seen in classified intelligence briefings, McCaul said "mental illness" played a critical role in the shooter's motivations.