Last week, while speaking at the U.S. Embassy in London, Elaine Duke, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, warned that terrorist organizations, like ISIS, want to take down aircraft to inflict mass civilian casualties.
In light of this reinforcement that terrorists continue to plot the takedown of passenger airplanes, the American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) calls for airports to enact commonsense security measures to prevent such attacks from reaching an airplane. Stationing a police officer near TSA screening, providing airport police with real-time access to CCTV footage, and screening all airport employees will help deter, prevent and thwart a potential attack. In particular, given the ongoing efforts of terrorists to circumvent the airport security apparatus, a police officer stationed near screening would deter terrorists and provide added protection for TSA agents and passengers at the screening checkpoint, which is the last barrier before entering the sterile part of an airport that provides access to awaiting planes.
Our nation’s airports and airplanes continue to be a symbolic prize for those looking to cause terror and chaos. In today’s heightened threat environment, with an increased susceptibility to terrorist attacks, it is now more important than ever to make sure that we have the measures necessary to stop an attack before it reaches an airplane.
“As police officers who patrol some of the busiest and most terrorist-targeted airports in the nation, we are confronted with these threats on a daily basis and have a unique point of view on how to help improve security,” says Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association and co-founder of the AAAPO. “Acting Secretary Duke’s statement reinforces that there is a clear and present threat to air travel. We hope airport leaders and policymakers will advance our recommendations, which help prevent threats from ever reaching an airplane.”
“We cannot wait for another attack to happen before we really get serious about airport security,” says Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association and co-founder of the AAAPO. “The writing is on the wall and we need to get on the offensive, as opposed to being passive and complacent. As we have seen too often, international threats often foreshadow threats here at home. We must preempt these threats with effective security at our nation’s airports, which are hotbeds for potential attacks.”