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Airport security the focus of a congressional subcommittee hearing in Syracuse

Ellen Abbott
Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) chairs a Congressional subcommittee hearing on airport security in Syracuse Monday

Making sure airports are as secure as possible was the focus of a congressional subcommittee hearing held at the federal building in Syracuse Monday. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), who chairs the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said one goal of the session was to find ways to beef up security at the nation’s airports.

“In this day and age with ISIS inspiring people to try and do these random attacks, they go for high value areas like malls, for examples," said Katko. "There’s a lot of people standing around waiting for tickets to get on planes, and it’s not secure, and we have to do better at responding to dangerous situations.” 

Katko says one issue that faces airports across the country, is a lack of security certain areas in airports.

“A couple of years ago at Los Angeles International Airport, there was an active shooter situation and a TSA employee was shot and killed," he said. "More recently there was a machete attack at another airport, and another incident down in New Orleans as well. So it highlights that the non-secure areas at airports need to be beefed up.”

Credit syrairport.org
Exit portals at Syracuse's Hancock International Airport allow travelers to exit a secure area, while preventing people from entering

After 9/11, the U.S. government mandated that security guards be on duty while  passengers exited airports. The TSA handled this duty for several years, but when they stopped doing it two years ago, some airports, like Hancock, installed automated exit lanes. Katko thinks it’s a useful technology.

"For example when I get to Washington and land at [Reagan] National, there will be three people standing there," said Katko. "Three or four people standing there just watching me walk out. In Syracuse there’s none. It’s an automated thing, you walk in that booth and walk out the other side. That’s what it is across all the modern airports in Europe, and it’s probably more secure because you don’t have the human element of error.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.