Airport Cops Told To Run and Hide During a Terrorist Attack
Chicago Airports have a big security problem, and it wasn’t until the wake of the bombings in Turkey that this news became public. Apparently, a directive from the head of airport security instructs some police and public safety personnel to run and hide during an attack. What makes this story more shocking is that security is provided by multiple agencies with different responsibilities, and nobody seems to be coordinating these services.
However, to tell those who are charged with stopping attacks and intervening to protect the public to run and hide is nothing short of mind-boggling. This is just one of many stories that call attention to the serious and potentially-deadly flaws that we have in our airport security apparatus across the country. It’s becoming increasingly-clear that ISIS or their sympathizers are directing their attacks at soft-spots in our airports, yet, nobody seems to be interested in doing anything about the problem.
TSA Says no Change Needed
One of the first things that the TSA did in the wake of the Istanbul Airport attack was to get in front of the cameras and tell everyone that our security posture is not going to change. Presumably, this was intended to send the signal to the American people, especially during the 4th of July travel weekend, that all is well and there’s nothing to worry about. However, the fact that the TSA is not changing their security posture is exactly why we have a big problem on our hands.
Targets of Opportunity
The root goal in any terrorist attack is to do as much damage with minimal resources as possible. This is one of the reasons that we see so many people wearing suicide belts detonating themselves in crowded, enclosed places. They also like to strike in places that will produce the most amount of fear. For us, this is at the airport. While, there is no doubt that terror attacks will continue to occur in different places at different times, airport targets are still remarkably-attractive to terrorists.
However, airport security measures are not adapting to counter the changing strategies of terrorists. We’ve seen two bombings this year so far, and both of them have striking similarities. First, some of the attackers were known to the authorities. Second, they got into insecure airport areas with little or no difficulty. They also blended into the crowd, which obviously worked, because nobody was paying attention to them until they attacked.
The two attacks were in public areas, and both occurred before the security checkpoints. We’ve been talking about this for a while now. Ticketing and baggage claim areas are the two most vulnerable areas within an airport in terms of being attacked. Lately, due to long security lines at TSA checkpoints, this is also a serious threat that has not been addressed. Just imagine the carnage if a suicide bomb went off in one of those bottlenecks.
There are a few steps that could be used to immediately solve both of these problems. First, keep everyone but ticketed passengers out of the airport. Period. It’s not unusual for this to occur in many countries in the world, and all you need is a guy with a gun at the front door checking boarding passes. Second, pick up and meet-and-greet areas could be built outside under sheltered conditions. This would help to secure the baggage claim area. While this will be a big inconvenience, and force the traveling public to adapt, this is a simple and very basic measure that can significantly reduce someone getting into the airport with weapons.
It’s just one more layer that we can add to our security apparatus that can reduce risk. Another idea is to actually arm police officers and security personnel, and make that a very visible show of force. Again, world-class airports across the globe have armed security all over the place. They blend into the scenery and don’t bother anyone. People still shop, still chat, still live as normal. However, many of us don’t want to see armed forces of any kind at the airport. So it’s not politically-expedient. It’s also a touchy subject in terms of governmental-overreach as well.
However, a visible show of force by trained personnel can quickly take out a terrorist before they have the opportunity to inflict serious damage. What is appalling is that the police presence that we have in our airports is minimal at best, and many officers are unarmed when they come into work. This is part of a soft-security program that enlists the part-time help of off-duty cops who are looking for some extra cash. They come to the airport, usually work in plain-clothes and simply provide “bouncer-type” security. So one entire layer of security that is staffed by trained professionals can not bring or use a gun, in an airport.
So now we dealt with the problem of not having secure areas and the fact that there are not enough cops with guns at the airport protecting the public. One more simple solution can significantly reduce injuries and loss of life. Partitions. Think of things like vertical advertising kiosks. You can place these things strategically in terminals and baggage claim areas. They can be used to separate TSA lines. Why are these so useful? Because they will contain and deflect blasts from bombs. They can also make it more difficult for an armed gunmen to have wide-open access in a crowded area. Both can minimize devastation during an attack.
These deficiencies, the dismissive attitude of the government, a lack of a real police presence and a public that doesn’t want to be inconvenienced are all parts of the problem. The problem is that hundreds, if not thousands of people could be killed in the event that an attack occurs at one of our airports at the present time.
Be vigilant and be ready to react, because there may be a chance that the police will run and hide instead of fighting back. Our airports are not secure, and it is only a matter of time before we have our own airport massacre to contend with. Think long and hard about how you would react if an attack occurs while you’re at the airport, because you may very well be on your own until law enforcement can get their act together and respond.