My uncle was Rocky Pomerance -- the late, great and legendary former Police Chief of Miami Beach. Rocky rose to become the President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (basically the “top cop” of the world) – largely due to his brilliance in keeping the presidential conventions peaceful in 1968 and 1972. He became one of the top private security experts in the world.
Every time I travel these days, I think about how much I’d
love to talk with my Uncle Rocky about airport security. Rocky used to deride
private condominium security as a farce – and I’ve thought of him so many times
when I’ve walked or driven past security guards with a confident stride and a
However, in a post 9-11 world, airport security shouldn’t be like a condo in Miami Beach – and today’s security farce isn’t at all funny.
It is maddening to realize that long lines are partly created in order for barely-trained (still private airline employees) to review boarding passes and ID cards (that can both be easily forged by someone with the right software and a laser printer). Despite the fact that Senator Schumer pointed this absurdity out in 2005, a P.h.D. candidate in Indiana may face criminal charges for calling out the same loophole.
This whole business about liquids and gels is also ridiculous. On a flight up to San Francisco this week, my toothpaste was allowed. On the flight back, the same tube was confiscated. I realize that the planned plane bombings in Europe using carry-on liquids were scary – but how can the TSA be so reactive? Didn’t anyone think about this risk BEFORE the news broke the story? Wasn’t the whole point of having a well-funded Federal Agency -- was to have these people think in advance of the terrorists? It drives me crazy to think about how poorly these people must think. When the terrorists used one-way tickets on 9-11, the TSA started specially screening one-way passengers. As if modern-day terrorists wouldn’t now know to buy a round-trip ticket!
Unlike my uncle Rocky, I don’t know how real airport security should work. However, I’ve read enough to believe that it would likely entail having smart people reviewing passengers in line – well-trained people who can detect passengers under duress. It would also likely take an intelligent database, perhaps some facial recognition software – not a foolish list that ensnared Senator Kennedy more than once while flying!
Today’s airport security measures are like Manhattan office buildings that require visitors to show identification, sign-in, and then proceed unguided in the building! It’s not security – it’s a farce. I was down in Miami Beach a few months ago, and sadly -- condo security is looking comparatively intelligent compared to the airport!