Aviation security officers will undergo "comprehensive retraining" -- and Midway Airport's three perimeter checkpoints will be redesigned -- in response to an embarrassing breach that allowed an intoxicated man to sneak onto the tarmac, officials said Wednesday.
Training of more than 225 security officers and supervisors will be conducted by the Department of Aviation in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration.
"Our goal is to have that [retraining] happen as soon as possible," said Aviation Department spokesman Wendy Abrams.
"We also plan to take a look at the configuration of all three of the Midway checkpoints and make some design changes as necessary. We are looking at any and all options that we can employ at both of our airports to make sure they are as safe as they can be," Abrams said.
Despite those changes, Mayor Daley on Wednesday dismissed the Midway breach as an isolated incident and nothing to be alarmed about.
"Could there be another incident next month? I guess. Yeah. But, it's one. It's not 50, 100, 200," the mayor said, adding that he saw no reason to add officers at Midway's perimeter checkpoints.
The incident -- leading to a brief shutdown of a Midway runway -- occurred late Sunday afternoon.
ON FIELD FOR 6 MINUTES
A 22-year-old man slipped through a security gate at 55th and Laramie, apparently while an unarmed aviation security officer was preoccupied with a vehicle leaving.
Mark Mechniek was charged with reckless conduct and trespassing on airport property and has been ordered held on $5,000 bond. Mechniek was on the airfield for six minutes before being apprehended after being spotted by a Southwest Airlines pilot between Runways 4 Left and 4 Right.
A portion of the airfield was closed briefly and a jetliner approaching Midway was ordered to go around. The five-year veteran aviation security officer assigned to the compromised checkpoint was put on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation.
Transportation experts said the security breach could have been prevented if Midway had "sally port" gates that hem vehicles in between two fences before they are allowed to proceed, similar to those in correctional facilities.
TSA and aviation officials have discussed installing such gates at Midway since the incident, TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding said.
Daley said he's more concerned about the FAA's failure to grant his oft-repeated request for a no-fly zone over Chicago.
"If you fly a single-engine plane, you can go anyplace in the United States -- except Disney [World] in Florida, Disneyland in California, Washington, D.C., and New York," he said.
"So don't worry about anybody walking on. . . .You don't have to file a flight [plan]. You don't have to have any security. They can bring anything in the plane they want."
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Without video evidence, City Hall must rely on an Aviation Department security officer's version of the March 5 incident and on the word of at least one witness to the breach.
Mayor Richard Daley on Wednesday downplayed the importance of a weekend security breach at Midway Airport saying it was "only one incident," and he scoffed at the media play it generated.
Aviation officials are trying to learn how an allegedly intoxicated man was able to walk through a security gate and onto the airfield at Midway Airport.