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Press Release

Safety of Airline Passengers, Flight Crews and Flight Attendants High Priority

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa
Local, State and Federal Agencies Work Together to Address Rise in Criminal Conduct

DES MOINES, Iowa – As the holiday travel season continues, local, state and federal agencies within the Southern District of Iowa are working together to ensure the safety of commercial airline passengers, flight crews and flight attendants.

Federal law prohibits assaults, intimidation and threats of violence that interfere with flight crews and flight attendants, as well as other enumerated criminal acts that occur during flight. Passengers who commit assaults against other passengers are also subject to federal prosecution.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland directed United States Attorneys to prioritize the prosecution of federal crimes occurring on commercial aircraft. To assist in the investigation and prosecution of in-air crimes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Justice have created an information-sharing protocol, resulting nationally in the referral of numerous incidents by the FAA to the FBI for investigation.

A statement from the Des Moines Police Department indicated that officers from the Des Moines Police Department’s Community Outreach and Protective Services Airport Section will be available throughout the holiday season to support and collaborate with federal partners to provide for the safest travel experience for all.

“Holiday travel should be accomplished in the same spirit as celebration of the holiday itself. We support our federal, state, city and airport security partners in assuring safety for passengers, flight crews, and flight attendants, in the air and on the ground. In assistance to these partners, and for those crimes that have singular federal jurisdiction, we are committed to hold accountable those who engage in criminal behavior during air travel,” stated United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal.

FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel stated, “The FBI continues to work with the FAA and other partners to combat violence aboard commercial flights and ensure the safety of all passengers. We remain committed to investigating all incidents that meet the threshold of a federal crime and fall within FBI jurisdiction.”


Rachel J. Scherle

Updated December 17, 2021

Community Outreach