A Risk and Threat Assessment-Security Management

The importance of security management cannot be gainsaid as far as the
stability of an organization is concerned. This is especially
considering that security determines the level of utility that
individuals derive from other freedoms. Unfortunately, the contemporary
human society has been met with numerous challenges to its security.
These challenges have been changing both in magnitude and in intensity,
especially considering the advent of technology. Needless to say, there
are some environments and entities that are more vulnerable to security
threats than others. Indeed, the contemporary human society has seen an
increase in some forms of security threats such as terrorism, which
target particular entities where they can inflict maximum damage. Some
of the most vulnerable places in the United States are airports
especially considering the September 11 terrorist attacks. The increased
vulnerability necessitates that these entities put in place varied
measures that enhance their security. This is the case for Minneapolis
Saint Paul International Airport.
Organizational overview
Located within the Minneapolis and St. Paul area in Minnesota
Minneapolis, Saint Paul International Airport is ranked the 17th busiest
airport in U.S.A and 41st in the world. Considering that the airport
holds such a huge number of passengers, it’s only of much importance
that it has an excellent organizational plan that takes care of all
departments and ensures a seamless interaction of the various
departments in order to have a flawless coordination of activities. As
such, Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport’s organizational
structure is designed in a way that modern security systems has been
employed in all corners of the airport, which includes leveraging on the
latest technology in security.
Following the terror attacks in September 2001 in America, the U.S
government took upon itself to form the transportation and security
administration (TSA), an agency that would be deployed in the all the
country’s transport systems to enhance the screening of passengers in
order to deal with any security breaches. As such, Minneapolis Saint
Paul International Airport police department works hand in hand with the
TSA. The two agencies are majorly concerned with intelligence on any
terrorism activities and work together to ensure a safe and secure
environment for anybody using the airport, be it a passengers or
In line with this, security in the airport is enhanced in ways such as
conducting security screening to anyone that access the facility. As
such TSA conducts screening on one international checkpoint, six local
check points on the ticketing areas, in addition to the skyway security
checkpoint. This also sees security check points open at approximately
the same time as the ticket counters, though this is with an exception
of the employees. The Skyway security checkpoint is however open for a
few hours to keep it secures from aerial security threats.
When it comes to handling of equipment’s, TSA has gone on to put a
number of advanced imaging technology machines. With such technology,
TSA is cable of detecting a wide range of security threats to transport
in a matter of seconds, hence are well placed to protect the passengers
and crews. TSA in conjunction with the airport’s police have also
placed in mechanisms for PreCheck screening system, which is an
expedited screening initiative aimed at enhancing aviation security.
This is done by placing more focus on prescreening passengers in order
to accelerate their travel experience. The process allows passengers to
leave their shoes on, gels and aerosols and laptops in their carry bags
as they go through the screening machines. TSA has further collaborated
with the American border and protection customs as well as the American
airlines as a part of the pre-flight screening program. TSA has also
been involved in pre-selecting persons to participate for individual
flights testing whereby, passengers are able to learn whether they are
eligible for the expedited screening process. This has been done all in
the efforts to come up with secure and fast screening processes that are
non-intrusive to the passengers privacy and take a shorter time to
conduct the screening.
The latest efforts to enhance airport security saw a new security
checkpoint unveiled at the airport in the year 2012. This is a six lane
security screening checkpoint in terminal 2 that was purposed to
increase processing efficiency and reduce the waiting time. The already
working five lane checkpoints were also remodeled to accommodate
advanced screening equipment.
Assessment of the strength of security system in the airport
Airport security is one of the biggest challenges of all airports since
they are prime targets for terrorist attacks. The magnitude of air
travel that is experienced at Minneapolis Saint Paul International
Airport is such big that it is a potential terror target hence the need
for intense security as an absolute requirement. With regard to
Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport security system, the kind
of man power and technology put in place is high-quality which
highlights how strong their security system is. Prioritized strengths in
the airport’s security system can be seen in the amount of technology
put in place. In this line, the top notch screening of passengers using
metal detectors and explosive detection mechanisms only highlights how
effective is the security system (Price and Forrest, 2013)
The measure to enhance security has seen Minneapolis Saint Paul
International Airport have its food outlets start using plastic utensils
as opposed to making use of glasses designed of glass and other metal
utensils to reduce their usage as weapons. A check at the sensitive
areas in the airport shows that sensitive area such as operational
spaces and ramps are restricted from the general public. This to a great
way minimizes any security threats highlighting the effectiveness of the
security system.
For non-passengers checking in the airport to receive their friends and
relatives, they are now no longer allowed on the concourses. As such,
non-passengers are required to acquire a gate pass to for them to access
the secure sections of the airport. The main reason for this is that a
non-passenger is required to have a gate pass that can also be used to
enable both children and the elderly have access the sensitive, high
security areas in the airport. In case of any plans to have business
meetings inside the airport’s secure areas, a notice of at least 24
hours must be given to arrange for their accommodation. This helps to
keep off people who may have other, motives have access to the airport
high sensitive security areas.
Another priority security strength of the Minneapolis Saint Paul
International airport is the employing of fiber optic perimeter
detection system. with the use of such systems, the airport security can
locate detect any interference to the secured perimeter, while at the
same time ensuring instantaneous notification, which allows the security
to assess the threat, and neutralize it accordingly..
Generally, passengers, as well as those receiving those who are arriving
go through thorough screening by the airport security and directed to
areas where exit gates to aircrafts are located. Minneapolis Saint Paul
International Airport has further employed an ultramodern method of
intelligence gathering that are very well suited to counter any acts of
The security system employed by TSA is one of the most advanced and
innovative multi-level surveillance and intelligence gathering system
which is able to monitor the entire airport and give real time
situational awareness to whoever is in charge of security. The concept
is a priority strength security in that it is based on integrating and
merging data from different kinds of real time sensors. The data
generated provides an evaluation of all the ongoing holistic view of the
airport’s security. The up to second information is thus shared
between ass the security authorities to keep them updated and able to
detect any security threat. This further allows decision makers in the
security sector have a situational assessment and are able interlink
effectively in determining the most effective way to neutralize any
threats (Price and Forrest, 2013)
However, some weaknesses are still prevalent in the system in various
areas. This can be seen in the sense that the fact that the airport has
two police units, both the airport police and TSA, conflict of roles may
arise at times which may give a leeway for security breach. As such, the
conflict in roles may see passengers fly though under suspicious
circumstances. This may happen whereby the counter-terrorist police are
unable to sort out what “terrorists” are carrying and do not take
the initiative to question (Price and Forrest, 2013). In a case where
the security officials are unable to tell what exactly passengers are
carrying though it does not look like it poses any security threats
leading to a security breach hence endangering the lives of everyone in
the airport.
Vulnerabilities of the security system can also be seen in the sense
that most threat detections still work as stand-alone detection systems,
some with unacceptably high rates of false alarms combined with slow
output. The individual systems further impose high demands on the
individual operators. Such challenges may end up putting unwarranted
pressure on security operators which may lead to lapses and expose the
entire system to security threats. To get a better understanding of
this, consider, for instance, a team of terrorists aiming to place an
explosive device on a passenger aircraft. If they managed to separate
the elements of the explosive, then each of them may be able to get
through security screening individually and assemble the device once
inside the aircraft. With the challenges that come with standalone
detection systems, terrorists could find their way into the plane, which
is a weakness in the security system.
It is also worth noting that part of the major activities of the
security checks is dependent observation skills of the security agents.
As such, security personnel must be able to identify suspicious looking
individuals or items and neutralize the potential security threat.
However, the security checks are characterized by recurrent and
monotonous activities, making the security agents prone to lack of
concentration. This means that their lack of concentration is a threat
to security to some extent considering that a passenger carrying error
items may slip through.
Assessment of the influence of crime and criminology in Airports
Federal investigators in various cases have identified lapses when it
comes to screening in various country’s airports through the use the
complete body scanners. This is despite Department of Homeland Security
allocating over 90 million dollars to replace the old magnet meters with
the controversial X-ray body scanning equipments intended to sense items
that are not sensed by the metal detector which shows that there were
suspected security faults with them (Elia, 2010). In connection with
this, the Journal of Transportation Security had the view that
terrorists could still use the system to fool some of the screening
equipments by swallowing explosive gadgets..
According to my own assessment about influence of crime and criminology
in airports, security threat reports from various security studies
conducted by the TSA reveals that crime is still very much prevalent in
airports despite the technological efforts put in place to counter the
vice. The major cause of alarm from the TSA officials was the prospect
that their security agents could be breached. Insider threat has been
and is still one of the main concerns to the aviation industry.
In 2008, TSA experimented on various ways that can be employed in
airport screening processes in a bid to compare the benefits, costs, and
impacts of the whole process. The pilot study was designed and put into
practice with the help of the Homeland Security Institute. The findings
quite shocking if the indicators were anything to go by. Additionally,
there has been growing criticism pertaining to a number of screening
policies that TSA has adopted including security pat-downs administered
on young children, as well as travelers who are aged 90 and above (Elia,
2010). Nevertheless, TSA has come out strongly against such criticism
and underlined the persistent interest that terrorists have had on
commercial aviation. TSA justifies its actions by noting that
counterterror officials have time and again had intelligence on renewed
interests fro terrorists who were surgically implanting bombs in their
bodies in a bid to escape being caught by the airport security agents.
Since the September 11th 2001 attacks, the Minneapolis/Saint Paul
International Airport has revamped its entire screening workforce, with
vast investments being made in an effort to enhance technology, which
has been set up across all parts of the country. Of particular note is
the fact that these developments have not deterred passengers from
making it to the airport even in cases where they should not have.
Indeed, there have been cases where cell phone-sized stun guns have come
up in plane searches. As much as it was commonly believed that the guns
were not aimed at being used in attacks, the episode underlines the
deficiency in screening techniques used. This triggered the carrying out
of investigations were carried out in an effort to determine how and why
such weapons could make it inside the plane. This was undoubtedly
evidence of security lapse. On the same note, such incidents where the
three layers of security at the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International
Airport have proved ineffective are common with passengers boarding the
planes with expired passports and boarding passes. There are also cases
whereby some passengers have refused to be screened hence become subject
to extreme bodily pat downs. As such, many of them have complained the
process was overboard with some of them complaining that they were being
sexually harassed.. Some citizens have even gone ahead and sued the
government, with allegation that the screening machines tore into the
citizen’s right to privacy.. A federal appeals court went on to side
with the authorities though acknowledged that the government did not
fully comply with the regulations in the law when it brought about the
use of the contentious screening machines (Elia, 2010).
In airport situations, thieves are usually opportunists explaining why
chance theft is one of the major security threats at airports. In such
cases fatigued or preoccupied travelers, can be easy robbery targets. It
is also worth noting that security checkpoints can not comprehensively
deal with all potential criminals. This is because even though only
ticketed travelers can pass through, some opportunistic thieves can make
it through and slip away with other passenger’s belongings without
their knowledge.
Additionally, leaving your luggage and any other property without
anybody checking on it only tempts thieves and in the process causing
immense logistical challenges for people in the airport.. It is common
nowadays to see, airport police responding to every piece of property
that is left alone and opportunistic persons are able to note if any
thing is not under good care for just a minute or two hence might seize
the opportunity and leave with the luggage (Lafontaine, 2012). Also the
police have to attend to such commodities in fear that something
dangerous like a bomb might have been left behind leading to unnecessary
commotions inside the airport, which only heightens the possibility of a
security breach in the process. As such it’s important for passengers
to keep watch of their stuff and never leave it unattended whenever one
is in the airport.
Its worth noting that any luggage left un-attended and gets lost at
airports in many cases turns out to have been misplaced. A case in point
is when, the Los Angeles international airport carried out a follow up
on calls of people who had reported to have lost their items. In 2006,
the security agents at the airport discovered that 27% of the luggage
was later found in other passengers belonging, or had been returned by
the airports, so called ‘lost and found unit’ (Lafontaine, 2012).
Additionally, the government has, for a long time been aware, as well as
immensely concerned about “insider threat”, a situation that
emanates from individuals with access to private and secure areas
wishing to harm the entities. Indeed, such individuals have, in the
past, been used by terrorists in their efforts to gain access to
sensitive information that would aid terror operations, as well as
access overseas target. For instance, cases where florists working in
hotels have been known to have helped facilitate the attacks
(Lafontaine, 2012).
The influence of crime and criminology in airports as we have seen so
far has far-reaching effects and much still have to be done to fight
crime in airports. Insider threats however remains a challenge to
security officials who have in various cases assisted in conducting the
crimes. The use of ray screening mechanisms still does not go well with
some passengers complaining that the process is an intrusive one and
infringes on their privacy rights. The rising cases of passengers
coming up with new methods to smuggle in contraband products still
remain a challenge to airport security systems to keep on coming up with
new systems to cope with the new rising forms of crime. All these issues
provide a glimpse of what security officials such as those in
Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport go through in a bid to keep
the airport terror free. However, a risk and security management
mechanism such as employed by St. Paul Airport shows that, with diligent
care and leveraging in the latest security mechanisms, terror in
airports can be contained to minimal levels
Elia, B. (2010). Airport and Aviation Security: U.S. Policy and Strategy
in the Age of Globalization. Amazon.com
Lafontaine, B. (2012). Information Technology Systems at Airports: A
Primer. Amazon.com
Price, J., & Forrest, J. (2013). Practical Aviation Security: Predicting
and Preventing Future Threats. Oxford: Elsevier Science.