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Poor security at the US airports was highly blamed following the twin attack of the September 11 2001 in the United States. Since then, the US government has invested heavily in security, particularly in the airports, in order to protect its citizens. There has been advancement in technology besides the extensive screening of passengers before they board the airplanes.
The airport security has been tightened using video surveillance and advanced data exchange technology. Besides, the aircraft security has also been advanced using bulletproof cockpit doors and restricted access to the airports. Advanced personal identity screening has been fine-tuned at the airport. The paper thus gives details of these advancements made in the US following the attack.
Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States, there has been a deliberate move by both the US and the federal governments to seal the loopholes that existed before in the airports sector. The 19 hijackers who terrorized the US in the twin attacks were able to go through the normal security checks and even shut the alarms of the metal detectors.
The hijackers forced the planes to fly into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon thus pushing thousands of people to respond to the attack. However, thousands died innocently portraying the fact that the United States airports were insecure.
The many questions raised concerning the incidence about safety of the US airports form the basis of this paper that discusses the advancement of airport security since September 11, 2001.
Advanced Passenger Screening
The previous poor airport security in the US that led to the attacks was highly criticized by people like Saine who have declared the “transport security author as “too reactive, imposing screening procedures that respond to past terrorist plots and not doing enough to anticipate future threats” (2012, Para. 2).
As a result, the airports have adapted advanced screening devices that can screen any bomb materials and or even metals (Foster, 2011, Para. 3). Before the September 11, 2001 attack, passengers could not carry bottled water into the airport leave alone the airplanes.
However, the new technology has enabled them to do so comfortably. Computer companies like Siemens have played an important role in helping the airports install baggage screeners, which now allow the passengers to drop off any bag that they are carrying immediately they enter the airports.
The new luggage screening system has also speeded up the process of screening. For example, the Delta airline has been able to increase the number of luggage screened per hour from 200 to 500 (Saine, 2012, Para. 4).
The step that has resulted out of technology has also eased the previous congestion in the airport thus reducing the safety risks because the aircraft hijackers of September 11 were able to pass their luggage though security checks without raising any alarm. For example, they carried box cutters that they used in threatening other passengers
The government has also provided a good administration by investing heavily on the development of sophisticated sensors that have the ability to recognize dangerous persons like those who carry explosives in their clothes long before they get into the gates of the airports. The success of the fast advancement in the security management at the airports has been because of government funding.
Following the September 11 2001 incidence, the government dedicated huge sums of money for the US airport security, approximately 700% more than before. Other authorities have also taken part in the financial support, for instance, “the customs and border patrol unit of the U.S., the coast guard, and the authorities of the ports that are in charge of maintaining, managing, and even owning the airports” (Ziebauer et al., 2003, p. 5).
The US airports have also acquired advanced information technology devices that enable the police and special units that deal with border patrol to exchange data faster than they used to before the twin attacks. The step has been possible because only the agencies previously had common data banks that could share information.
However, the new technology has allowed the police units and airports authorities to exchange information freely and quickly even when they are using different databases. The security personnel employed in airports must pass through a vetting session for any criminal record.
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Before September 11, some airports had hired employees with criminal records. For example, according to Ziebauer et al. (2003, p.5), the Philadelphia International Airport had hired untrained security personnel with criminal records. This has really reduced the time taken for the security agents to identify the criminals with intentions of committing acts of terror.
Airports are also adopting the use of video surveillance gargets that enable monitors to supervise and detect abnormal behavior in crowds. The technology enabled the security agent to identify the person who was behind the bombing of the Times Square. This equipment was able to identify this bomber accurately amongst other people in a crowd.
The federal government planned and established the homeland security unit, which is consistently investigating terrorism attacks besides taking pre-emptive actions to prevent any act of terror in the U.S.
All the security persons must be trained on how to perform screenings since, during the September 11 attack, Khali al-Mihdhar, Nawaf-al-Hazmi, Majed Moqed, and even Salem al-Hazmi were able to set off all the metal detectors and their alarms at the security checks (Zielbauer & Sullivan, 2001, Para. 4). Security personnel have now been trained on advanced checks.
Improved aircraft security
Today, the airports have been able to strengthen cockpit doors. This ensures that no passenger or unauthorized persons can interfere with the pilot and the co-pilot especially when the airplane is airborne. The doors of the airplanes have also been made bulletproof to prevent any forceful entry to the cockpit. This has made it safer to the cabin crew and even the passengers.
The government also employs air marshals that board the flight for security purposes. The companies that had been put on probation for not complying with regulatory authority requirements on airplanes and pilots were forced to have their period of probation extend until 2005, as reported by CNN (2001, Para. 3).
Improved Personal Identity Screening
In conclusion, the airports have also been given the authority to inspect the identity documents of any passenger to confirm whether their names are in line with those in the air tickets. However, identity checks are usually done manually making it difficult to validate the names and other details of the passengers.
The government and the authorities are still researching on this area. In fact, Ball (2001, Para. 5) says, “We continue to explore and implement additional mitigation measures to prevent the manipulation of boarding passes and are working with the airlines to develop systems and methods to prevent illegal tampering.”
Any person exempted and allowed to fly without IDs is subjected to more screening. There are also tight requirements like the ramps of the airport, which detect any suspicious material in anyone’s luggage before entering the operation bases of the airport.
Ball, J. (2012). Airports Security Checks are Vulnerable to Fake Boarding Passes. Web.
Foster, F. (2001). When Does Airport Security Become Physical Assault? Web.
Saine, C. (2012). Law Makers Criticize US Government Airport Screening. Web.
Zielbauer, P., & Sullivan, J. (2001). After the Attacks: Airport Security; F.A.A. Announces Stricter Rules; Knives No Longer Allowed. New York: The New York Times, 2001. Print.