Saturday, July 20, 2002

Veteran to head airport police

By James Pilcher,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Transportation Security Administration Friday appointed a permanent head of security for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, turning to a veteran aviation security official with local airport experience.

        Terry Burgess most recently worked at Houston-based Continental Airlines, where he served as the carrier's principal security inspector and as the primary liaison to the federal government regarding aviation security.

        Mr. Burgess, who was not made available for comment by the TSA, also has worked for the Federal Aviation Administration's civil aviation security division and was stationed at the FAA's Nashville security office. The office at one time oversaw security at the Cincinnati airport.

        Local airport officials said that during the early 1990s, they had extensive dealings with Mr. Burgess.

        Working later for the FAA, Mr. Burgess inspected security at foreign airports to ensure international standards were being met.

        Airport officials here said they were “thrilled” to get someone with extensive aviation security experience, and someone who was familiar with the local operation.

        “This guy is good,” said Chad Everett, who oversees local security matters for the airport as deputy operations director. “I think we got really lucky, and we can't wait to get him in here and develop a strong relationship with him.”

        The TSA also named a new security director for Lexington's Bluegrass Airport. Lanny Miller, a veteran postal inspector, most recently worked for the TSA in the security liaison division.

        Mr. Burgess, who is expected to start in about a month, will take over an operation that recently fared poorly on undercover security tests of passenger screeners.

        In tests run in June, local airport screeners, who are still private employees, failed tests that included finding hidden weapons under clothing or in carry-on baggage 58 percent of the time over the course of 12 tests. Six involved testing of screeners working the X-ray machines, and six involved testing workers manning metal detectors, and whether they could find simulated weapons through hand searches. Those workers failed four out of the six tests.

        The TSA, the agency created to handle aviation security in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, is in the process of federalizing the entire system. That includes appointing security directors at the nation's 429 airports with commercial air service. The position pays up to $122,000 a year.

        Those security directors will then be in charge of security and will oversee a new local force of federal passenger and baggage screeners and law enforcement officers being hired. No timetable has been set for federalization locally, although all screeners are to be federal employees by Nov. 19.

        Twenty-four directors were appointed Friday, bringing the national total to 70.

        Mr. Burgess will undergo several weeks of training, including two weeks of orientation in Washington, TSA officials said.

        He succeeds interim security director Mike Marshall, who was the local head of the FAA's civil air security office before the TSA.


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