Beefed up security at CLE Hopkins Int'l Airport

Posted at 7:04 PM, Mar 22, 2016
A Cleveland Hopkins International Airport official said passengers could expect to see immediate changes Tuesday following terror bombings at a Brussels airport that killed at least 30 and injured more than 230 others.
Interim Director of Port Control Fred Szabo said there was no known threat in Cleveland, but said Cleveland police had already begun deploying increased patrols in unsecured areas of the airport, including near check-in counters, baggage claim and passenger drop-off and pick-up areas. Police K-9 units were visible throughout the terminal on Tuesday.
The Transportation Security Administration is also making changes.
“You’ll see more K-9 units,” Szabo said. "They also have behavior detection officers, which are plain-clothed individuals, who observe any behavior that might be suspect.”
In a press release, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which operates the TSA, said there was no specific, credible terrorist threat in the U.S. but said it remained focused on the threat “posed by lone terrorist actors.”
The agency said it was working to share information with European authorities and could block “individuals of suspicion” from flying from Brussels to U.S. airports.
But many airport procedures will not change. At Cleveland Hopkins and other large airports nationwide, there will be no change to the TSA pre-check program, which allows fingerprinted passengers to access expedited security screenings. Further, airport employees, though still subject to random screenings, will not undergo routine mandatory screenings.
National Security Expert Tim Dimoff said that policy presented a security vulnerability.
“Having your airport employees screened at a specific checkpoint before they get into the airport is not a bad idea,” Dimoff said.
Dimoff added Americans planning overseas travel need to be vigilant and keep up to date on terror warnings.
“Americans are targets. And the safest place for Americans is inside our country,” Dimoff said, "And it’s not outside the country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel.”
Paul Erb and his wife are keeping that in mind. They were traveling from Cleveland to Texas to visit relatives on Tuesday. They traveled to Germany five years ago and expressed apprehension about returning.
“I would have more today than I did back then just because of what tensions seem to be going on in Europe,” Erb said.
Rail lines are also under more scrutiny. Amtrak said in a statement it is reminding employees to be on the lookout for suspicious activity and unattended items and said it had deployed extra officers.
A Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority spokeswoman said the agency, like airports, has been under heightened security ever since 9/11 and would continue to monitor situations with their eight K-9 units.
The city of Cleveland also released new details about how the Secret Service is coordinating security ahead of the Republican National Convention in July.
An estimated 4,000-5,000 additional police officers will descend on Cleveland for the week-long convention. An unknown number of those officers will be stationed at the airport.


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