Archive for Saturday, July 6, 2002

Airport shooting spawns beefed-up security

July 6, 2002

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— The federal government is considering putting more police in airport lobbies and around ticket counters in response to the Fourth of July shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

It's already started at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The federal security chief there made the move late Thursday, adding extra police patrols in the public areas between its entrances and security checkpoints, Transportation Security Administration spokesman Greg Warren said.

Los Angeles Airport police check the identification of travelers
outside the airport's El Al ticket counter. The counter was
reopened Friday, a day after a gunman opened fire and killed two
people before he was shot and killed by security officials. The
incident sparked an increase in airport security across the
country.

Los Angeles Airport police check the identification of travelers outside the airport's El Al ticket counter. The counter was reopened Friday, a day after a gunman opened fire and killed two people before he was shot and killed by security officials. The incident sparked an increase in airport security across the country.

The federal agency, set up after the Sept. 11 terror attacks to oversee aviation security nationwide, worked Friday on "bulking up security" inside and outside other U.S. airports, Warren said.

The agency still hasn't worked out specifics, including a timetable, on how to increase policing at airport public areas, but the measures will be costly and "there is always that hurdle of how do you make that happen," Warren said.

National Guard personnel, called up on an emergency basis after Sept. 11, are no longer on patrol at most airports, Warren said.

But don't look for drastic measures like screening for weapons outside U.S. airport entrances, or for new rules that keep nonpassengers out of airports.

Those are not being considered, Warren said.

The Transportation Security Administration eventually will take over police patrols of the nation's airports. But it has not done so yet, and there is no timetable for that to happen, Warren said.

Former Federal Aviation Administration security chief Billie Vincent said having more uniformed and undercover police was long overdue. Other experts called for more intensive profiling of airport visitors.

U.S. Secret Service agents protecting the president visually profile a crowd looking for potential threats, and properly trained federal airport security agents could do the same, said Eric Doten, a former FAA adviser who teaches aviation safety at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

At some overseas airports, the security goes even further.

In Amman, Jordan, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, people entering the airport are screened for weapons, said Vincent.

The best protection is to check for weapons three times: As people enter airports, as they go through current screening locations, and as they board airplanes, said Lou Tyska, a Hollis, N.H., security consultant who chairs the transportation security committee for the American Society for Industrial Security.

In Karachi, Pakistan, only ticketed passengers are allowed in airports. Applied in the United States, the measure would cause long lines outside airports and hurt airport concession revenues, experts said.

"Is it a smart move? Yes," Tyska said. "Is the public ready for that? It depends on how much they've suffered and how much they're concerned."

Vincent said ticket counter shootings like Thursday's, which claimed three lives, are too rare to warrant such intrusive security.

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