WASHINGTON D.C. (WLUC) - U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase safety and security for airport passengers and visitors outside of Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-screened areas. The Secure Airport Public Spaces Act allows airports to use existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds to update their security infrastructure to better protect public areas, including pick up and drop off areas, as well as baggage claims. High profile attacks at Fort Lauderdale Airport and Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan last year demonstrated the vulnerabilities of unsecured public areas at airports.
“Millions of Americans travel through our nation’s airports every day, and we need to protect travelers and visitors from potential security threats in every part of the airport,” said Senator Peters. “In recent years, we’ve seen a rising number of attacks that take place outside of TSA-screened areas. This bipartisan, commonsense legislation will give airports flexibility to address security vulnerabilities in public areas and safeguard passengers, visitors and staff.”
“Colorado’s airports serve thousands of travelers every day and it is important we secure all aspects of our facilities,” said Senator Gardner. “Airport security must remain a top priority and going forward, I will continue to work with Senator Peters and our colleagues to help ensure the safety of our airports.”
The bipartisan bill allows airports to spend Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) dollars they have already collected on airport infrastructure projects that increase security. Under the bill, PFC funding could be used for projects to enhance perimeter security by adding fencing or barricades, or improve responses to active shooter threats by installing active shooter location technology and ballistic protective podiums that shield officers and store rifles to help counter an attack.
The bill also allows airports to use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds on state of the art surveillance cameras in public areas such as baggage claims or pick up and drop off areas. Currently, AIP funds are limited to the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) inside of secure, TSA-screened areas of an airport.
“Airports greatly appreciate the efforts of Senators Peters and Gardner to provide more funding for critical airport-security enhancements,” said Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of the Airports Council International—North America. “Airports face over $100 billion in infrastructure needs through 2021, and the majority of those needs are terminal-development projects designed to support new capacity and security upgrades. With a constantly evolving security landscape, the new Peters-Gardner bill would help ensure that more of these important security projects are eligible for funding through federal grants and local user fees.”
“The Peters-Gardner legislation demonstrates a commitment to ensure that millions of Americans, visitors, and airport employees access the safest possible airport environments made possible through modernized infrastructure,” said Don Erickson, CEO, Security Industry Association.
“Senator Peters continues to be a champion for the safety and security at our nation’s airports,” said Wayne County Airport Authority Interim CEO Genelle Allen. “At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, we strive continuously to enhance various types of security measures. The bill sponsored by Senator Peters would make it possible for DTW and airports throughout the U.S. to continue improving our multi-layered approach to security.”