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Seizure of such implements as nail files, corkscrews and even ski poles has spread even to retail shops inside secure areas of airports as part of heightened security in response to the World Trade Center attack.
"No prohibited items can now be sold beyond the search point," Marcus Arroyo, Federal Aviation Administration regional security chief, said in a report to the Queens Borough Board Monday.
Various officials mentioned revolutionary new electronic face scanners, explosion-proof luggage bins on jetliners as well as the new airport security legislation just passed by Congress as factors in the tougher security.
We realize this is going to cause an economic hardship, said Arroyo about prohibiting the sale of certain items in airport shops, but we cannot have someone pass inspection by screeners, then buy a potential weapon on the way to the plane.
Arroyo, LaGuardia Airport Director Warren Kroeppel, John F. Kennedy International Airport Director Al Grazier and other officials appeared at the Borough Board meeting to update Queens officials on security at JFK and LaGuardia.
Grazier said the Port Authority ordered New York Citys three major airports shut down even before the Federal Aviation Administration closed airports nationwide right after the attack Sept. 11.
Our reason for that was that we suspected some of those involved in the attack might still be in the area looking to do more damage, Grazier said.
Arroyo said the number of air marshals riding planes was in the process of being intensely increased.
Kroeppel said it was not possible to disclose all that has been done to tighten security.
A lot is going on behind the scenes, Kroeppel said. And we hope that serves to reassure you.
Vinnie Donato of Community Board 1 in Astoria asked if it was true a baggage container in the baggage compartment of commercial jets exists that can withstand a bomb explosion.
Arroyo said such a luggage bin was indeed in the process of development.
He said that barring greeters and meeters without tickets from beyond search points has help greatly, reducing the vast numbers of people who must be searched.
Arroyo said that U.S. marshals, Customs agents and the Secret Service were brought in to help beef up security in the days right after Sept. 11 prior to stationing National Guard troops at airports.
Arroyo mentioned that the FAA security division had hired a number of workers who lost their jobs at airlines since Sept. 11.
Would you care to say how many? asked Queens Borough President Claire Shulman. I believe we in Queens have 20,000 people who lost their airline jobs.
Arroyo demurred, but Shulman suggested that if he was interested in helping Queens he would say how many.
Under 100, said Arroyo.
Its good they were hired, said Shulman.
Patty Clark, program director of the Port Authority, said face recognition scanners are one of the things we are looking at ... we may use them.
Such devices can register on a computer the facial characteristics of people sought or suspected by authorities as they pass by.
Arroyo said new rules now prohibit passengers from carrying inside hand luggage carpet knives and spare blades, box cutters and spare blade, any item with folding or retractable blade, ice picks, straight razors, metal scissors with pointed tips, metal nail files, corkscrews, baseball bats, golf clubs, pool cues, ski poles and hockey sticks.
Items now permitted in carry-on bags: walking canes after inspection, nail clippers, safety razors including disposable ones, syringes after proof a person has medical need for it, tweezers, umbrellas after inspection and eyelash curlers.
Two Queens congressmen hailed passage of legislation in Congress to place federal law enforcement officers at every airport security checkpoint.
After two long months, this vote will begin to restore confidence to airline safety for all who fly and also for New Yorkers who live near airports, said U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) whose congressional district includes La Guardia airport.
Crowley and U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) appeared at the Marine Air Terminal of LaGuardia Airport Friday when Congress approved the measure. Ackerman had said at an earlier such news conference on behalf of the bill that he had managed to board a jetliner carrying knives and firearms ammunition.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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