Airport security

Airport police host National Night Out events

Police departments – including airport police departments – join with their neighborhoods each August 7  to hold National Night Out events to encourage neighbors to get to know each other and to create safer places to live.

The street I used to live on held a picnic each year during Natoinal Night Out and one neighbor rented a bouncy house for the kids. Each year we shared phone numbers and emails. We introduced ourselves around and chose a street captain.

And when there was a serious issue on our block – or if someone just noticed that someone else had left their car lights on – we knew how to get in touch with our neighbors.

So if your street is hosting an event, I strongly encourage you to out there and say hi.

If you’re flying somewhere, stop and chat with airport police and others looking out for your safety.  National Night Out events planned for Washington Dulles International AirportWashington’s Reagan National Airport  and Los Angeles International Airport.

And don’t be shy about approaching those airport officers. As we’re learning from their entertaining entries in the viral police lip sync challenge, many airport police teams have a great sense of humor.

Know of another airport hosting a National Night Out event? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

 

Worms to whales: the wildlife that shows up at airports

Bearded Seal on runway at Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiaġvik (fomerly Barrow) Courtesy Scott Babcock, Alaska Dept of Transportation & Public Facilities.

My “At the Airport” column on USA Today this month is all about the wildlife that shows up – uninvited – at airports.

The story details some of the visitors, such as the seal (above) that showed up on the runway during a snowstorm at Alaska’s Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiaġvik (fomerly Barrow) last year, the wily coyotes that can climb over barbed wire fences and the loons, carbiou, alligators and, mostly, birds that airport wildlife management teams must deal with.

This moose stopped by Jackson Hole Airport in October 2015. Photo courtesy Philip Bollman

To report the story I did a ride along with Nick Atwell, wildlife manager at the Portland International Airport, and talked with wildlife biologists who work with airports around the country. You can read the full column – From worms to whales, the wildlife that worries airports – at the USA Today site, but here are few more fun photos.

Coyotes chased this bear cub across a Colorado airport. USDA Wildlife Services tranquilized, tagged and relocated the cub. Photo_USDA Wildlife Services

 

The USDA’s Wildlife Services staff helps capturs and relocate alligators – some up to 9 feet long – at many southern airports. Courtesy USDA

Buffalo standing outside terminal doors at Yellowstone Airport. Courtesy Jeff Kadlec.

Wild animals at airports

I’m having a great time learning about the wide variety of wild animals that airports around the country have encountered and the creative ways they have come up with to keep them away from airplanes.

My research and all the photos airports have been sending along will end up in my At the Airport column on USA Today  later this month but sharing a few snaps with you today.

Above – a Great Horned Owl that was caught in a trap meant for smaller birds at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and below, a nine-foot alligator wrangled by the USDA at a military base in Georgia.

TSA’s Week in Review is dynamite

Each week the Transporation Security Administration shares a tally of the firearms its officers find at airport checkpoints.

I find that list both fasciniating and frightening.

From June 4 through 10, for example, 78 firearms were found in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints around the country.

Of those 78 firearms, 61 were loaded and 25 had a round chambered.

Alarming? Yes. A record? Not at all.

The guns are scary, but so too are the other prohibited items that TSA tells us travelers try to take on board with them.

For example, last week’s ‘catch’ included the replica Improvised Explosive Device (IED) pictured above that was found in a traveler’s carry-on bag at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

It looks like it could be real and TSA reports that after finding this item, the checkpoint was closed down for almost 20 minutes before the Chicago Police Bomb Squad was able to respond and clear the item.

Most people found with firearms in their carryon bags tells the authorities that they just ‘forgot’ they had their guns in the bags they grabbed on the way to the airport. But that replica IED? What were they thinking???

Want TSA PreCheck? Go buy some paper.

Summer is coming and checkpoint security lines at airports around the country are going to get longer.

So if you haven’t signed up for TSA’s PreCheck program yet, now would be a good time.

Don’t want to take an extra trip to the airport to do that? You may not have to if you’ve got a Staples office supply story nearby.

Staples office supply company and Idemia, the company that has the TSA contract to enroll people in the PreCheck program, have teamed up to set up IdentoGO enrollment centers in 50 Staples stores.

The cost of enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program is $85 and is good for five years at $17 per year.

Need to get new passport photo or a certified birth certificate?  Those IdentoGO Centers at Staples will help with those too.

 And if Staples isn’t in your community, check this site for another place to sign-up for TSA PreCheck.