Airport Security Concerns Over Employee Entry Points

By Grant Stinchfield
|  Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010  |  Updated 12:03 AM CDT
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Some say a security violation at the airport demonstrates a weak point at its employee entrances.

Grant Stinchfield, NBCDFW.com

Some say a security violation at the airport demonstrates a weak point at its employee entrances.

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An aviation security consultant says a security violation at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport demonstrates a weak point at its employee entrances.

A Transportation Security Administration agent allegedly carried a passenger's rifle through an employee entry point on Nov. 21.

According to the police report, the TSA agent said the passenger wanted to check the rifle, but the oversized luggage screening room was closed.

The agent said he was, "just trying to get the weapon inside its locked case processed so it would be on the same flight as its owner," the report states.

The TSA declined to discuss the case.

Airport spokesman David Magana said the agent could have been arrested, but police determined the violation was a "training issue, not criminal in nature."

"While we understand he was trying to provide customer service to the passenger, you have to do it in the right way, obviously," he said.

Magana said DFW Airport police have investigated 61 reports of such "portal violations."

Many of the more than 60,000 employees who work at the airport enter secure areas without passing through a metal detector or body scanner. Those who do have undergone in-depth background checks and a vetting process. Magana said the vetted workers are "a trusted part of the security system."

Their badges allow them to pass through unguarded employee entry points that lead directly into the terminals.

"There is a strict protocol around those employee portals," Magana said.

He said the entry points are equipped with constantly monitored cameras that are constantly monitored.

Two TSA agents who asked not to be identified said the violation by their fellow agent calls needed attention to flaws in security at the portals.

Aviation security consultant Denny Kelly said he agreed.

"You can open the door with your badge and hold the door open, and people go in," he said. "It's just that simple."

Kelly said that a human does not man the doors, they should have a process that only allows one employee to enter at a time.

He recommended using a locked-chamber process similar to the ones used in prisons. The employee would walk into the chamber, and the door would lock behind them before the door into the terminal can open.

"There should very well be some type of check that the people go through one at a time, and the people have the right documentation and badge," Kelly said.

Airport workers could be seen lining up to use the employee portals at the airport. No one checked the person behind him or her.

The TSA said that how it handles security is "not up for discussion."

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