TSA displays explosive training aids, discusses reasons for rules

Several bomb models were on display in front of the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Augusta Regional Airport on Wednesday as a visual reminder for travelers who may still question the rules and regulations currently in place.

 

Mark Howell, a TSA regional spokesman and state explosives specialist, said the replicas act as a visual aid for the history of the TSA and how security has evolved.

“It’s a strong reminder about why TSA is here and why we do what we do,” he said.

Howell said there have not been any major security breaches at the regional airport, and the “show and tell” was used to reassure travelers of the safety measures in place.

“We’re right around the corner from 9/11 and people tend to forget why we have the rules in place,” he said. “They’re not arbitrary, they’re all based in real world events and intelligence that we get.”

Tim Madere, a state explosives specialist who inspects and builds devices to train TSA officers in the state, said inspections at regional airports have increased over the last few months. He said many of the security violations resulted from people being uninformed of current restrictions.

“It’s been two to three a week and its not just the airport in Savannah or here in Augusta but it’s several different locations,” he said.

Madere accompanied Howell on Wednesday with visual aids produced after security levels increased following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

“(Threats) are continually shifting with the way that (enemies) are trying to get things on board,” Howell said. “So we are trying to stay ahead of that with the intelligence that we got and these guys, as well as the rest of the folks at TSA, are working together to make sure we stay a step ahead.”

The replicas included a model of a shoe bomb, liquid bombs, nonmetallic powders — that enforced the use of the full body scanning machine — and one of a most recent threat, established in 2016 after a man used his laptop to sneak a bomb onto a plane in Somalia.

“This is the most current one, the electronic one,” Howell said. “As we got the intelligence on it we saw what had happened in Somalia and that’s why they’re trying to roll this out and train the local (officers).”

Although laptops and computers are not currently restricted, Howell said security measures have tightened for those planning to travel with their electronic devices.

“You’re allowed to take them,” he said. “They’re just going to ask you to take them out of your bag and put them in a separate bin when you go through the screening process so we can get a better image of them.”

 

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