SCOTTSBLUFF Security at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport is more than just cameras and staff making sure the area is always secure. Upgrades to the fencing has been completed and the gate at the hangar area has been moved to the area between the terminal and the Hertz building. The fencing has been straightened out to accommodate the new hangar being built. The gates have also been changed to roller gates and the gates with arms have been removed. Darwin Skelton, airport director, said the roller gates work better. The new location also allows better control of the gate and more cameras to see what is happening at the gate.
Underground loops are also gone, eliminating issues with wires below ground.
Before, when someone drove up, there were wires to detect someone was there and open the gate, he said. We had a lot of problems with those wires. A carding system is now in its place, which has its own security advantages, including carding in and out of the area. The system allows authorized employees to download information from the gate if they need it.
We can know who s been in and out of there, he said. We can track that at both ends of the gate. The cameras are also in good shape. Some of the cameras and the DVRs the airport had purchased had some problems, but the company that makes the equipment is working to upgrade them and work out any issues.
They wanted to get ours done while they were still under warranty, which was good of them to do that, Skelton said.
Other cameras are still being put into place. There are 48 on-site currently, but when finished, around 55 will be keeping watch over the airport.
For a small airport, that s good, he said. We can cover almost anything. One of the most important places cameras are located are on Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials. The cameras help end disputes when questions arise about missing items.
We can watch them go through baggage and when someone says something is gone, we can look and say ‘No, it s not,’ he said. The camera upgrades are progressing and should be completed later this year or early 2018. Everything will be moved from analog to HD during the process.
We switch out a few of those every year to keep them updated and it s a better system, Skelton said.
These ongoing improvements join the secure security room where passengers can sit after passing through the TSA security checkpoint, which was completed about three years ago.
People worried about going through room and sitting in security, he said. Since we put the restrooms in, they don t mind going in early and we don t have much delay, he said. That made leaving the airport also easier. When they de-board, they come in by my office, he said. There are restrooms by my office and we don t have congestion around the (luggage) carousel. It s been working really well.
A man has been arrested in connection with a security breach that set off an evacuation of a busy terminal at LaGuardia Airport earlier this week, officials said Thursday. The man, identified as Phani Kumar Varanasi, voluntarily turned himself in after authorities tracked him down at his brother’s home in Secaucus, New Jersey. Varanasi, who lives in India but flew in from Detroit, told police that he was “confused about where he was supposed to pick up his luggage,” according to a Port Authority spokesperson. Surveillance video from the scene allegedly shows Varanasi leisurely strolling past a TSA agent stationed at a security checkpoint. Varanasi then spent 5 minutes in the “sterile area” before returning the way he came, the Port Authority representative said. The breach trigged a full evacuation of LaGuardia’s Terminal B, though “nothing dangerous” was found in the sweep, according to a TSA statement.
The TSA also noted that “appropriate action will be taken” against their employee, but did not divulge further specifics.
Following the incident, Long Island Congressman Peter King demanded a full explanation for the breach, which he called “extremely serious.”
“It could have been an incidental mistake, but we have zero margin of error at this time” King said. “We saw what happened in Manchester and other incidents around the world; we just can’t let our guard down.”
Varanasi was charged late last night with criminal trespassing. He is expected to appear in a Queens court on Thursday afternoon.
Your laptop isn t the only item you ll have to part with at airport security. For over a year, the Transportation Security Administration has been quietly testing new security requirements at 10 US airports, including in Los Angeles, Boston, and Las Vegas, that require passengers to remove any electronic item larger than a cell phone, not just laptops, from carry-on baggage so scanners can better read the contents of the luggage. These requirements could be extended to other airports, the TSA said.
This helps in obtaining a clearer picture on the X-ray machine, a TSA spokeswoman told Quartz, adding that the tests are not related to the recent US ban on laptops and other large electronic devices on on US-bound flights from the Middle East. Passengers may also have to part with items other than electronics, the TSA said. Food and other things travelers stuff in their bags to avoid baggage fees can also make it hard for X-ray machines to read the contents of a bag, creating false alarms.
But as with the electronics ban, having some cash to spare goes a long way. The restrictions are the perfect advertisement for the TSA PreCheck program, whose members are exempt from the stepped-up checks. TSA PreCheck members pay $85 for five years of membership after undergoing a background check and are granted access to less invasive security screenings and usually shorter, dedicated security lanes. TSA PreCheck applications jumped last year after hourslong security lines formed in Chicago and other large US airports. As of this month, 4.8 million people are enrolled in TSA s PreCheck, up from 2.6 million enrollees a year ago, but TSA has said it aims to get 25 million people enrolled by 2025. What better advertisement than the alternative of a longer security line?
For those that don t want to pay the additional fee, do yourself and your fellow travelers a favor: Instead of fumbling around emptying out your luggage, consider a digital detox on your next flight and leave the electronics at home.
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- ^ US ban on laptops and other large electronic devices (qz.com)
- ^ to avoid baggage fees (qz.com)
- ^ the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com)
- ^ having some cash to spare (qz.com)
- ^ TSA PreCheck program, (qz.com)
- ^ after hourslong security lines (qz.com)
- ^ Trump reportedly called Germany bad, very bad and threatened to stop Americans from buying BMWs (qz.com)