- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 28, 2001

BALTIMORE For the first time, state employees will be allowed to help overburdened airline and federal security personnel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Federal Aviation Administrator Jane Garvey said yesterday.
Under a deal worked out by Mrs. Garvey and Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, police officers and other state workers can work at BWI's security checkpoints. Previously, FAA interpretations of federal regulations limited security workers to agents of the airlines and the federal government, Mrs. Garvey said.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, BWI has been plagued by some of the longest lines in the country, often hundreds of people deep and stretching across several areas of the terminal.
The increase in trained screeners will help ease the congestion at security checkpoints, said Mrs. Townsend, who chairs the airport's governing board.
Mrs. Garvey said the airlines will remain responsible for the checkpoints and will pay for the additional cost of the state workers. Specific details of the plan are still being worked out between the airlines, the state and the FAA.
Other states and airports can follow BWI's lead if it will reduce the long lines and delays in air travel, Mrs. Garvey said.
The new interpretation of federal regulations will allow state workers to become, in effect, temporary agents of the airlines after training in security procedures.
"From our perspective, we want to be as flexible as we can," Mrs. Garvey said.
Mrs. Townsend said the long lines at BWI gave her the idea to approach the FAA and Southwest Airlines the airport's largest carrier to craft a solution.
On Friday, she contacted Southwest Chairman Herb Kelleher to discuss options, including using state workers at security areas.
She then contacted Mrs. Garvey directly to discuss the proposal both Friday evening and yesterday morning.
Yesterday, Mrs. Garvey agreed to allow Maryland to dispatch state workers to the airport and Southwest agreed to pay the additional costs.
"It has gotten to the point where we cannot allow these lines to continue," Mrs. Townsend said. "The bottom line is that we saw a problem, we are dealing with it, and within the next week those lines should be reduced."
Mrs. Garvey said many of the busiest airports in the country simply do not have the personnel to provide efficient security under the tightened measures implemented after Sept. 11.
"For some of those larger hubs, we are seeing situations where the staffing just isn't there," she said.
John Porcari, Maryland's secretary of transportation, said the current class of state Transportation Authority cadets likely will be the first state workers trained in the new security procedures. The cadets have had background checks, he said, and learning checkpoint procedures will be a "useful part" of their police training.
Mrs. Garvey and Southwest President Colleen Barrett both gave credit to Mrs. Townsend for the idea.
"These are unusual times, and it is forcing all of us to be more innovative and to step forward with new solutions," Mrs. Garvey said. "I give the lieutenant governor an enormous amount of credit."


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