Stimulus money to boost airport security

June 16, 2009 4:35:10 AM PDT
Millions of dollars in federal stimulus money landed at Philadelphia International Airport to make security screening more advanced, and supposedly more efficient.On Monday US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano handed over a $26.6 million federal check for construction of two new inline baggage screen systems, for checked luggage.

The state of the art devices will incorporate enhanced explosive detection capabilities for TSA officers and at the same time, streamline the security process for passengers by reducing the number of re-scans and physical bag searches.

It will consolidate the current, eight separate screening locations into four.

Governor Rendell, Mayor Nutter and Secretary Napolitano boasted that the technology will not only improve safety but its construction will bring more jobs to the area.

"The recovery act, signed by congress passed by President Obama is creating jobs while at the same time improving security," said Secretary Napolitano.

But once the technology is installed and the system is streamlined what happens to the current TSA employees who work in baggage security.

"I think once these systems are in place we're looking at probably 50 percent of the officers used to screen baggage would be transferred or be eliminated," said Bob Ellis, Federal Security Director.

That's not exactly good news for TSA employees. But Governor Rendell and Secretary Napolitano were quick to try to refocus on the immediate effects of the funding in the upcoming months.

"But just so you're clear the jobs that are here that are being created are in the construction of this system it's like building a bridge."

Secretary Napolitano added that it is likely jobs would be reconfigured once the technology is complete not eliminated. Although the Federal Security Director agreed that would be the goal, he said there are no guarantees.

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