CHANGING THE SECURITY FOCUS
A look at changes in airport security at MSP, Quad City Int’l
By Lindsay M. Hitch, Assistant Editor
November/December 2001Mike Haney, director of operations, MLI (left); Mark Rosenow, commander, Airport Police Department, MSP
The diverting and subsequent grounding of airplanes in U.S. airspace on September 11 was an exercise in adaptivity for airport security personnel and programs. Making the job even harder: inconsistent communication on new requirements from FAA to large vs. small airports, inadequate staff for increased demands, and the struggle to coordinate effective security tactics.
"We went at least two days without any official notification from
FAA as to what’s going on," says Mike Haney, director of operations
at the Quad City International Airport in Moline, IL. "We heard from
the news when it started and then from the air traffic control tower that
planes were coming in.
"Now, I realize the FAA had their hands full, and it’s certainly a big job they’ve never done before, but ... there were never any definite instructions."
Increasing terminal and aircraft security has led to new mandates on what’s allowed in concessions areas.
Bonnie Wilson, vice president of airport facilities and services for Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), says that airport concessions are under a system-wide mandate restricting knives. There are a few exceptions, Wilson explains. "If an employee has a demonstrated need for a bladed instrument beyond screening it can be accommodated, but otherwise it is prohibited nationwide."
The Quad City Airport’s main restaurant and retail shop are located landside, reducing the threat of items from airside concessions jeopardizing airport and aircraft security. Haney says that plastic knives are allowed in the airside deli, and special care has been taken to reduce the need for metal blades in the deli’s kitchen.
The public safety department at the Quad
City Airport handles fire protection and law enforcement support. On a
typical day, three or four officers would be on duty, says Haney. And
two of those officers are responsible for a "three-minute" fire
truck, making them unavailable for other duties.
According to Haney, FAA has asked the airport for two or three officers stationed on the curb to monitor cars, one near the screening checkpoint, one walking through the lobby, one walking through the concourse, increased patrols around the airport, and more law enforcement personnel on the ramp.
"It’s just so difficult to try to have [a law enforcement officer] present in as many places as they’re asking when you’re a small airport like we are," says Haney. Office and field maintenance staff have been recruited to monitor the curb and other areas for the time-being.
Mark Rosenow, commander of the Airport Police Department at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, says that the airport reverted to "Incident Command’ shortly after the terrorist attacks.
"Off-duty personnel were recalled; vacations and days off were cancelled. Police officers were put on 12-hour shifts. An increase in uniform presence was quickly achieved through the use of police investigators who normally work in plainclothes. Additional uniformed personnel were assigned to the front of the terminal, the ticketing area, and screening checkpoints. Firefighters also increased their presence in the terminals," says Rosenow.