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Friday, March 25, 2011

Mayor Anthony Foxx says Charlotte Douglas International Airport security isn't as bad as you think

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 9:59 AM

In a media briefing Thursday morning, Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx said he doesn't understand why U.S. Congressman William Keating continues to press for further investigation into security lapses at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Keating, who was the district attorney in Milton, Mass. — where the body of Charlotte teen Delvonte Tisdale was discovered after he fell from a US Air jet — has been vocal on finding out what happened at the airport since he arrived in Washington.

On March 3, Keating further probed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about lapses in airport security.

“Last month we had the opportunity to discuss the aftermath of the death of 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale ... to date, there has been no video surveillance that has surfaced to detail how Mr. Tisdale was able to breech airport operations," Keating said. "The case surely suggests that there may be perimeter- and air-field vulnerabilities in other airports as well.”

Foxx said he's never spoken with Keating and "there have been multiple investigations at this point ... it's a tough situation for all concerned. We want to make sure that our airport is the most secure in the country. I think what the city manager [Curt Walton] and the police chief [Rodney Monroe] have outlined in broad terms are the exact steps we need to get there. I don't know why Congressman Keating continues to berate that point." Adding that he doesn't know if Keating has spoken to city officials or if he knows about the CMPD report.

In CMPD's report, they cited the following:

  • Investigators used a variety of investigative tools to determine how Mr.Tisdale got to the airport; however efforts, which included countless interviews and reviews of highway cameras, media releases, cab and bus manifests and video, did not produce any evidence of his mode of transportation.
  • Investigators also could not determine what motivated Mr. Tisdale to travel to the airport and stow away on the airplane.
  • Detectives identified various locations where Mr. Tisdale may have breached airport security and gained access to the airplane. Our investigation concentrated on a particular area of the airport in combination with an identified aircraft.

But even while CMPD was investigating how Delvonte got on the plane, other security breaches continued at Charlotte Douglas, including a former employee who was seen jumping the fence at one of the airport's employee entrances.

According to The Charlotte Observer, on Feb. 13, Trenton Meadows, 38, had forgotten his security badge, jumped through three strands of barbed wire instead of going through a turnstile, according to an airport incident report.

Meadows had his security clearance for the tarmac revoked following the incident.

In mid-March, two separate breaches happened at the airport. According to Charlotte Douglas Airport police reports, on March 12, someone cut the perimeter field gate fencing causing $200 in damage and stole about $150 in diesel fuel from Phoenix Solutions.

Also, on March 12, police received a report about a construction gate, which was left open, allowing someone to walk in and steal  more than $13,000 worth of landscaping equipment.

Foxx said he's confident in airport safety. "I think that as unfortunate and horrible as the death of this young man was that it has given our airport and our police department a chance to really look at security in a much broader way. And I think that we're going to be safer because of it."

But he couldn't answer specifically if the suggested changes to strengthen airport security, which Walton said in his report would be "implemented in an expedient time frame," have been put in place.

"I know that our police chief, our airport director and our city manager understand that gravity of that issues and they are working to implement the things that they are talking about. So, I have no concerns about the urgency there. I'd be foolish to say that our airport or any other airport wouldn't have another incident, but what they are doing out there is to prevent another incident like that from happening."

In a story published by Creative Loafing on Feb. 22,  Tisdale’s family lawyer Christopher Chestnut said the family wants to see safety become a priority at the airport and don’t want another family to face the what they are dealing with.

"Obviously, US Air, Charlotte [Douglas] — you have some gaping holes in your security. And how is it three months later, you still don't have any answers?" Chestnut said. "If you don't have any answers, then you don't have any improvements. If you don't have improvements, that means it could happen again."

Foxx said because of the steps that the airport is taking in light of the Tisdale situation everyone is safer."I am highly confident that the steps that the airport is taking will help us in other situations."

Meadows had his security clearance for the tarmac revoked following the incident.

In mid-March, two separate breaches happened at the airport. According to Charlotte Douglas Airport police reports, on March 12, someone cut the perimeter field gate fencing causing $200 in damage and stole about $150 in diesel fuel from Phoenix Solutions.

Also, on March 12, police received a report about a construction gate, which was left open, allowing someone to walk in and steal  more than $13,000 worth of landscaping equipment.

Foxx said he's confident in airport safety. "I think that as unfortunate and horrible as the death of this young man was that it has given our airport and our police department a chance to really look at security in a much broader way. And I think that we're going to be safer because of it."

But he couldn't answer specifically if the suggested changes to strengthen airport security, which Walton said in his report would be "implemented in an expedient time frame," have been put in place.

"I know that our police chief, our airport director and our city manager understand that gravity of that issues and they are working to implement the things that they are talking about. So, I have no concerns about the urgency there. I'd be foolish to say that our airport or any other airport wouldn't have another incident, but what they are doing out there is to prevent another incident like that from happening."

In a story published by Creative Loafing on Feb. 22,  Tisdale’s family lawyer Christopher Chestnut said the family wants to see safety become a priority at the airport and don’t want another family to face the what they are dealing with.

"Obviously, US Air, Charlotte [Douglas] — you have some gaping holes in your security. And how is it three months later, you still don't have any answers?" Chestnut said. "If you don't have any answers, then you don't have any improvements. If you don't have improvements, that means it could happen again."

Foxx said because of the steps that the airport is taking in light of the Tisdale situation everyone is safer."I am highly confident that the steps that the airport is taking will help us in other situations."

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