Airport Baggage Claim Security Top of Mind After Florida Shooting

Florida shooting has airline passengers asking how safe is baggage claim

A shooting in the baggage claim area of a Florida airport Friday left many passengers at Dallas Love Field wondering whether it is time to rethink security as people leave airports.

"The [security] focus is mostly on the gates and the entrance. They're not focused on baggage claim," said airline passenger Elalie Meireou, as she waited to be picked up from baggage claim. "People are coming in from outside and they've not been checked."

Baggage claim is in what security experts call the "non-sterile" portions of airports – where people are not screened for weapons before they enter.

Dallas police, which patrols Love Field, said visibility is the best deterrent to an attack. Shortly after the shooting in Florida, security was heightened at the Dallas airport.

"Safety is our top priority out here at the airport. We work hand-in-hand with the airport and our federal partners to make sure that we ensure the safety of our travelers," said Dallas Police Lt. Jose Garcia. "We are still actively monitoring the situation, and we have enough staffing in place and resources to address any situation that we could be confronted with."

Last summer Dallas police shot and killed a violent domestic abuse suspect outside the baggage claim area at Love Field. Garcia could not give specifics on how the incident impacted security at the airport, but he said officers have to be trained to deal with any situation.

Some passengers felt anxious as they waited for their bags on the airport carousels. Terry Dittmer said he expected security at the airport to be a little tighter given the shooting Friday afternoon. He arrived to find what he considered to be a light police presence.

"We were watching (coverage of the shooting) on the news and realized that this is not a secure area," he said. "We talked about the old days when you could walk somebody all the way to their gate and say goodbye. After 9/11 they cut that off. Someday they're going to have to secure the whole terminal."

Any changes will not come overnight, but Garcia said officers are ready to respond to any situation in Dallas and keep all airport visitors safe.

"We definitely have the proper amount of staffing resources in place to meet our objective," he said.

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