Charlotte/Douglas already oversees a security force with about three dozen officers. Orr said that federal intelligence agencies could share information on potential terrorists with airport security forces, just as federal agencies share information with local agencies law enforcement agencies today.
Orr would not care how the operation of an expanded security force was funded, as long as it was the same for all airports. While he reminded that private screening in place on Sept. 11 did not fail -- since the box cutters used by the terrorists were not prohibited by federal regulations -- he said airlines should not oversee security going forward because that is not their business.
TSA spokesman Jon Allen noted that individual airports have the ability to opt out of use of the TSA under a screening partnership program currently used by 16 airports, although TSA continues to set security standards, including the use of enhanced pat downs and imaging technology if available.
Among the opt-outs is San Francisco International Airport, which is similar in size to Charlotte and uses private firms to staff checkpoints, due to scheduling and cost issues rather than to any particular conflict with TSA policies.
Orr said he is considering whether Charlotte/Douglas ought to opt out as well. In fact, he said, "I think about it all the time."
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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