According to a USA Today report released Monday, screeners at 32 U.S. airports were only 52 percent successful stopping prohibited items from passing through checkpoints. Other statistics and information gathered during this undercover testing are just as alarming.
This is unacceptable surveillance for any time period, but it is especially disheartening after airport security has been such a targeted and important focal point since Sept. 11. Screeners and airports must work hard to deter and detect knives, explosives and guns in order to ensure both personal and societal air travel safety.
The results of the undercover tests conducted from November through early February were released in a Feb. 19 memo. In all, 783 tests at airport screening checkpoints and hundreds of tests in other areas of airport security were conducted. The results are not only ridiculous but also appalling in the face of supposedly increased and heightened airport security measures.
According to USA Today, more than 70 percent of the investigators carrying knives went through screenings undetected, as did 30 percent of those carrying guns and 60 percent carrying explosives. In 48 percent of their tests, investigators were able to either secretly board aircraft or gain access to airport tarmacs.These figures show that airport personnel is insufficiently trained to detect much more than knives. Intensive and effective training must be given to all airport employees to ensure, whether checkpoint staffers, flight attendants, baggage handlers or tarmac workers, that dangerous items such as guns and explosives are not brought onto planes.
Obviously, little has changed since Sept. 11, and according to the USA Today report, security was stronger in the 1970s and 1980s. This must change soon, and hopefully this investigation will spawn true airport security reform.