Last week, I had the privilege of visiting Capitol Hill to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation. I had the opportunity to share about one of our top priorities: Airport Safety and Security.
RDU is the 39th largest commercial service airport in the United States, serving more than 9 million passengers each year. Our size puts us in a unique position. We experience some of the same challenges as larger airport, as well as those of smaller airports.
As you may recall, on November 1, 2013, a terrible incident occurred at Los Angeles International Airport when a lone gunman opened fire on the security checkpoint in one of the terminals, killing a Transportation Security Officer. Since that time, airports, the federal government and industry groups have been discussing the best ways to improve security at facilities throughout the nation.
I, along with other representatives from the airport community, shared with members of Congress our perspectives on what is working and what could be strengthened. We also discussed where there are opportunities for further improvement and assistance from the federal government. Based on work we’re doing at RDU, I made the following recommendations to the subcommittee.
- We have found that airports are each other’s best resource, but the challenge is how to share that information. I believe the Transportation Security Administration should become a clearing house for the best ideas from across the country on how to address active shooter situations. The TSA should be able to quickly share information and resources with airports when such a situation occurs.
- Active shooter training should be required of all airport employees, tenants and TSA employees. At RDU, we’ve been diligently training our employees for months on this very topic. It’s not something pleasant to think about, but in the light of the Los Angeles incident and the many accounts you hear on the news, it’s a necessity in this day and age.
- Emergency response plans should be tailored to each airport’s size, layout and other local considerations and not a one-size-fits-all approach as some suggest. This would allow each airport to best coordinate with area emergency responders to handle an incident and return the airport to normal operations as quickly as possible.
- Airport police departments should develop a layered approach to security. We’re already doing this here at RDU. It starts from the moment you enter the airport and continues to the curb in front of the terminal, inside the pre-security areas, through the checkpoint, onto the concourse and the airfield. We have a lot of elements at play from behavior detection to community policing and we’re working to strengthen our layers even more.
When getting ready to take a trip, airport security may not be on the forefront of your mind, but it is at the top of our minds. I take our role seriously as you entrust us to protect you when you visit any of RDU’s facilities. Sharing our experiences with Congress is one way we’re working to provide you with a world-class experience every time you visit RDU.