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NEW TWIST TO DIA’S SECURITY: SURPRISE

NEW TWIST TO DIA’S SECURITY: SURPRISE

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Thursday, August 5, 2004
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 23A
Security will be stepped up at Denver International Airport and made more unpredictable as a way to derail terrorist acts, federal officials announced Wednesday.

“We’re trying to make it more difficult for people who mean us harm to know exactly what to expect when they come through the airport in Denver,” said Mike Fierberg, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.
Patrick Ahlstrom, federal security director at DIA, said changes will include vehicle inspections, increased law enforcement patrols, more random screenings of passengers and hand-searching of some bags.

He declined to elaborate, citing security concerns.

The new measures “are designed to use our local resources and to minimize disruptions to air travelers,” Ahlstrom said during an airport news conference.

He doesn’t expect heightened security procedures to significantly affect wait times. The new protocols will be carried out at random times during both off-peak and peak travel periods.

“It will vary,” he said. “I want to emphasize that over and over again. We will do this in a way that an observer will not be able to discern a pattern that can be relied upon.”

He praised DIA for being a leader in airport security and cited TSA screeners for their hard work.

“They are professional, technically competent and pleasant to work with, and they are working with us on these various additional layers of security,” he said.

Fierberg said screeners at DIA find approximately 750 pounds of prohibited items a month and come across items almost every hour.

Screener Samantha McPherron, 24, said most prohibited items are carried inadvertently by passengers.

“Civilians aren’t always educated to what they can have or what they can’t have, or what happens to them if they’re caught with it,” she said.

While airport and security officials should try to educate passengers better, such as updating prohibited items signs in the airport, people need to be proactive as well, she said.

“Passengers just need to plan out a little more before they travel, because they don’t,” she said. “They just pack what they usually pack and, I guess, think it’s OK. So just more education would be it.”

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