Airport chief says new security rules ‘scariest’ yet

A new security directive from the Transportation Security Administration is being called “scary” by staff members of the Grand Junction Regional Airport. 

The measure further guards against security risks among airport employees and in restricted-access areas of individual airports, officials said. Airports throughout the nation must implement the security measures.

“This is the most scary thing I’ve seen put out through the TSA since they’ve been in existence,” airport Manager Rex Tippetts told the Grand Junction Regional Airport board Tuesday. “This came absolutely, positively, out of the blue to everyone Thursday morning. TSA is saying this is a done deal.”

As part of the directive, TSA will require individual airports to take on the duties of verifying, examining and keeping all documentation related to airport workers. Previously, employers such as airline and car rental companies took care of that process, TSA officials said.

For the Grand Junction Regional Airport, that means all 500 to 600 employees on airport property will have to be rebadged, costing at least $100 each, Tippetts said. All airports will shoulder the financial cost.

TSA says the measure will standardize the security process.

“Overall, it’s an enhancement to airport credentialing that helps us further protect against an insider threat,” said Carrie Harmon, spokeswoman for Denver-based TSA.

“It’s better data collection and requires a broader population of airport employees to undergo a security-threat assessment. TSA and airports and airlines, all of us together have many layers of security. We’re always looking at ways to improve and enhance it.”

The security system will track who is let on an airplane and by whom, said Tippetts, who added he has not told the board about all of the changes.

“We’re probably going to see a lot more crazy things coming out (from TSA) real soon,” board member Roger Little said.

The new credential rules will be implemented over the next three to four months, Harmon said.


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