Originally created 02/26/03

Airport boosts security

Airport police are conducting random searches of vehicles at Augusta Regional Airport in reaction to the nation's heightened terrorism alert. Still, officials say passengers shouldn't expect lengthy delays.

"There is no, if any, minimal, delay to passengers," said Kathryn Solee, the director of marketing for Augusta Regional. "... They're simple searches, and they don't take very long."

Ms. Solee said airport officials decided a few days ago to start the searches, which she said are random and can occur at any time in front of the airport's terminal or in the road leading to the terminal.

"Our's is a voluntary effort supported by TSA (the Transportation Security Administration)," she said. "We're unlike Atlanta."

At Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, similar random searches began Tuesday, as mandated by the TSA for larger airports nationwide.

Deirdre O'Sullivan, of TSA's public affairs office in Washington, D.C., said all airports were given some discretion concerning how they wanted to implement the searches.

"It varies from airport to airport," she said, noting that random vehicle searches at major airports will continue until the terrorism alert status is lowered.

"It will be in effect as long as we are in orange."

Ms. Solee said the same will apply for Augusta Regional.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.


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