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Archive for Thursday, October 17, 2002

New KCI contractor has history of breaches

October 17, 2002

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— Security screening at Kansas City International Airport will be handled by a firm with a history of security lapses and a recent bankruptcy, according to a newspaper report.

The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday the federal Transportation Security Administration has awarded International Total Services an exclusive one-year contract for passenger and baggage screening at all three KCI terminals. That's in spite of breaches, the paper reported, since the 9-11 terrorist attacks that have included:

A man getting a .22-caliber revolver and pocketknife past the security checkpoint in July 2002 at an airport in Norfolk, Va.

A man boarding a Southwest Airlines flight from Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans to St. Louis in October 2001 with a small handgun in his carry-on bag. When the man realized he had the gun, he alerted a flight attendant and surrendered the weapon.

In those cases, the men who got through security provided by ITS were not believed to have intended to commit terrorist acts. But Southwest Airlines the biggest carrier at KCI terminated its contract with International Total Services in New Orleans after the incident.

The company bid on the $28 million contract and will begin providing security at KCI on Nov. 19. It will be responsible for safeguarding an estimated 10 million passengers who will depart from KCI during the next year.

International Total Services was one of the country's largest screening firms, operating at 95 U.S. airports until the federal government began its nationwide takeover of security screening operations this year.

All commercial airports except five, including KCI will have federal security screeners by Nov. 19 as required by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which Congress approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The law allows for those five airports to have private companies test the feasibility of returning security screening to private contractors in 2004.

"I am mad beyond belief," said Kansas City councilwoman Teresa Loar, who is chairwoman of the City Council's Aviation Committee. "I thought we would get a company that would be financially healthy and have a decent security record."

Airport spokesman Joe McBride said local airport officials had no part in awarding the contract. Still, McBride said, ITS is "one of the premier security screening firms in the country and has been a good partner at KCI."

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