Airport security since 9/11: How far have we come?
Airport security since 9/11: How far have we come?

Online Exclusive, Sep 12 2002

One year after the Sept. 11 tragedies, how far has airport and airline security come? It depends who you ask.

The most visible security changes may be on the airplanes themselves. One year later, many planes have installed bulletproof, locked cockpit doors, securing the pilot and flight crew from the rest of the plane. There have also been attempts to install CCTV systems as a cabin monitoring system.

Aside from armed air marshals aboard select planes, The U.S. Senate last week passed a bill that includes provisions to arm pilots in the cockpit. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill allowing the creation of a firearms training program for pilots who volunteer as special deputies.

Increased security at airports themselves, however, has come along much more slowly. "The flying public knows that mostly cosmetic changes have taken place, while adding unnecessary inconveniences and hassles," says Charles Slepian, CEO of the Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center.

The past year has seen the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but major security changes have yet to be implemented.

Instead, the TSA has moved on to its second director, has been unable to fully staff airports with federal screeners, has delayed a mandatory baggage screening deadline multiple times and has overrun a $350 million budget.

"The lesson to be learned from the chaos created by government in the name of securing our airports is that the public needs to play a role in providing a safe environment in an airport, at home or on the street," Slepian says. "In the future, if hijackers are able to bypass security, they are likely to be thwarted in their attempts to hijack an airliner by citizens and flight crews trained in self-defense."

The TSA has implemented temporary flight restrictions within a 30-mile radius of public events in New York, Washington D.C., and Somerset, Pa., on this week's anniversary of Sept. 11., but that is one more in a long line of security initiatives designed for the short-term. But getting major long-range security initiatives accomplished is moving at a snail's pace. Just last week, the TSA sent site survey teams to 21 different airports "to conduct initial studies on how best to federalize passenger security and baggage screening checkpoints."

Get in-depth on airport and transportation security in TRANSPORTATION SECURITY, another new spin-off magazine of ACCESS CONTROL & SECURITY SYSTEMS, launching in November.

This article is from the 9/11 anniversary edition of SECURITY BEAT, the AC&SS weekly e-mail newsletter. Sign up to receive your copy at Subscribe to Security Beat

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