9/11 and Airport Security

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How Security Has Changed

Melvin T. Rice III
2/21/12
U.S. History
Mr. Jackson

How Security Has Changed

“Please take off your shoes before entering the line to speed the process. Place all electronics, coins, wallets, jewelry, cell phones, and metals in the grey bins. Be sure to unpack any laptops and tablets before sending your bags though the scanner. When you walk through the metal detector, be sure to keep your arms at your sides and avoid touching the walls. Make sure you are not wearing any metals that could set off the detector. Thank you and have a nice flight.” Sound familiar? This is how rigorous airport security is present day. The 9-11 attacks caused such a huge shock to America’s security that they had to rethink everything; they had to change the whole system that the American people believed would keep the safe. The question is though, how did they change it? Were the changes for the better? And how safe is are the American people now after the changes have been made? Since 9-11 America’s securities throughout all airports have been drastically changed for the better, there have been advances in technology, employee training, airport layout and more. Thanks to the 9-11 attacks security experts were able to learn from their mistakes and create a system that keeps airport terrorism to a minimal level.

If one were to take a walk through the airport 11 years ago and compare it to how it is now, they would find multiple differences, from the people working there to the machines they worked with, everything would be different. For now, let’s look at the people, "ten years ago airport police were viewed as a little more than custodians"Those who were hired did not have the ability to detect things that could be harmful to the plane of its passengers, things like knives, bombs, guns, poisons and other dangerous substances. This lack of skill was the result of “constant turnover in the workplace coupled with poor training due to unattractive wages and benefits which resulted in the hiring of an unskilled, inexperienced labor force”2. Not to mention how the job was seen to be similar to working as a janitor at a school in terms of accomplishment. And as if that wasn’t enough, “there were no real regulations with regards to employee or passenger background checks.” That means anyone could be hired, regardless of what they’ve done in the past or are currently doing.

The next change falls under the security of the airport itself. Prior to the 9/11 terrorists attack, the access control of airports were not secure as the government had intended them to be, it was so bad that in May 2000, the department of transportation inspector general had agents set up with fake law enforcement badges and credentials to gain access to secure areas, bypass airport checkpoints in 4 locations and walk unescorted to airport departure gates. Out of the many airports they tested, they were able to gain access to 70% of them. Had those men not been agents just doing their job but instead terrorists intending to hijack a plane, they would have been able to so easily that it would be compared to the simple task of putting on a costume and taking a stroll to the airplane.

The technology of the airport is almost as important as the people who work it. Without proper machinery to back up the security, people would be able to smuggle in all kinds of dangerous materials, and while there are always non technology based methods that are just as effective as its technology based counterpart, the technology path is always more efficient and generally more accurate. So when the security technology of an airport is easy to cheat, horrific events like 9/11 are bound to happen. Since 9/11 airport security has been on its toes, ready to upgrade or modify itself every time something gets past it. And the threats don’t seem to give up either. If modern day terrorist were to walk into an airport before 9-11, they would laugh at how...
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