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New Method for Identifying Suspicious Persons Used at Some Airports

Five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, aviation security continues to evolve. Airports are using new techniques for identifying suspicious travellers, including "behavior pattern recognition."

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  • TOM BEARDEN:

    The planes that destroyed the World Trade Center took off from Boston's Logan Airport. Afterwards, the agency that operates the 84-year-old airport, the Massachusetts Port Authority, was lambasted in the press for poor security. But a lot has changed in the last five years.

    In fact, Logan just won an award for dramatic improvements in security. The one getting the most attention is something called behavior pattern recognition. It means that, while today's fliers surrender their water bottles and watch the clock, a lot of people are watching them with trained and practiced eyes. They are looking for people behaving suspiciously, and singling them out for greater scrutiny.

    The Transportation Security Administration is now in the process of adopting the idea nationwide. Everybody who works at the airport, from federal baggage screeners, to state police, to ticket agents, to fast-food vendors, is required to receive training in the technique. There's even a one-hour course for bus and cabdrivers who frequent the airport. Thomas Kinton, who now runs the entire Massachusetts Port Authority, is one of the people who began the program.

  • THOMAS KINTON, CEO, Massachusetts Port Authority:

    A trooper in plainclothes or in — in uniform may be observing a crowded terminal. The flow of that terminal may be left to right, for whatever reason. Maybe it's the morning outbound traffic. If you have got somebody going against that flow, why?

    More importantly, observe them. And, if they were going against the flow, and they had a bag in their hand, and the ticket counter was to the left, but they were heading to the right, and then they came back without the bag, that's an important piece of behavior to get on right away. Or the way they're walking, indicating whether they're secreting something on their person, is another thing to zero in on.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    If any observer sees behavior they believe is suspicious, they call in state police to ask questions, beginning with relatively simple ones.

  • THOMAS KINTON:

    Where they're going. Can I see your travel documents? One, two, three questions, it's over. Have a nice flight, safe trip, welcome home, whatever it is, if the questions have been answered right. If they're not answered right, then you're drilling down a little deeper.

    And you're saying, well, why are you here? Let me see some identification. What do you mean you're meeting this person? You're in the domestic terminal. This is not the international terminal.