The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expanding airport security in the wake of terrorist threats and attacks in Yemen and France this past month.
The Department of Homeland Security announced that increased security measures will be taken at airports across the country after the al-Qaeda branch in Yemen published instructions on how to construct a bomb with household materials in a magazine on Dec. 24 and following the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris two weeks later, which killed 12 and injured 11.
Santa Barbara Airport Operations Manager Tracy Lincoln said TSA’s “increased diligence” will help create a safer environment in light of recent events.
“There’s a lot of layers of aviation security and everybody is being extra diligent with procedures and protocols to make sure they adhere to what they’re supposed to be doing,” Lincoln said.
According to Lincoln, the security boosts will feature more random inspections of individuals going through security checkpoints, in addition to other measures that are classified.
“There are other things being done that we can’t necessarily talk about because it is security sensitive information,” Lincoln said.
According to University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) research analyst Fan Yang, increased security often comes with downsides.
“Nowadays, we’re always trying to find that catch because of new surveillance technology,” Yang said. “Here, the catch is that TSA is being rather vague in how they are increasing security. While it may make for safer flights, there’s always that question of how much personal privacy should we sacrifice for security.”
In a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson stated that enhanced screening is only a small portion of security adjustments coming from the TSA.
“I have directed TSA to conduct an immediate, short-term review to determine whether more is necessary, at both domestic and overseas last-point of departure airports,” Johnson stated. “These are just a few of the aviation security adjustments we have undertaken recently; we will not hesitate to take more when and if necessary, without unduly burdening the traveling public.”
According to Yang, while the public may fear slower lines, it is the issue of privacy that should raise skepticism.
“With new technology comes newer ways of surveillance which some people might not be comfortable with, so people should be aware of what types of screenings they are exactly going through when they fly,” Yang said.
While larger airports may have more personnel and technology to increase security, Santa Barbara Airport and other smaller airports often rely on simpler types of surveillance, Lincoln said.
“Because we’re a smaller airport, everybody is looking out,” Lincoln said. “All our tenants get security training, and keep their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary.”
Lincoln also said despite the new security increases, most airports, including Santa Barbara, already have a strong security team with effective collaboration between different airport entities.
“We have a very good partnership with the TSA, and our tenants” Lincoln said. “So in terms of being diligent about security, we’re good about that.”