Salina Airport security is as important here as it is in the nation's major cities, a Department of Homeland Security official said.
"When people think of homeland security, not everyone thinks of the state of Kansas," Asa Hutchinson said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Kansas State University-Salina. "But I think it's important that, as we look at our homeland responsibilities, that we not overlook the middle of the country."
Hutchinson, undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security, met with airport managers, members of the trucking and railroad industries and officials of Kansas State's Salina campus, which specializes in technology and aviation. U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., also attended the forum.
Hutchinson, who also has served as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and as a Republican congressman from Arkansas, said Washington couldn't make homeland security work simply by issuing decrees.
"It has to be a partnership," he said.
Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski said the forum provided valuable information for his department.
"I was very impressed," Kochanowski said. "There's a real concern as to what's going on in smaller parts of the country, the smaller airports. I believe I gleaned a lot of good things about what people are concerned about and how they have to deal with some of the mandates that were passed down."
Having Moran involved in the discussions provided an added benefit, said Salina Airport Authority Executive Director Tim Rogers.
"The ideas and discussion points were being relayed not only back to the Department of Homeland Security," Rogers said, "but also back to the U.S. Congress."