LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) –An Arkansas airport gives the public a peek behind the curtain when it comes to travel safety.
Representatives with the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock and the Transportation Security Administration held an event Dec. 7 for the media.
Its purpose was to help bring awareness about safety issues to travelers.
The average traveler probably associates TSA with airport checkpoints.
However, TSA is actually a counter intelligence agency whose representatives work closely with the airport, law enforcement and intelligence community partners.
Director of Public Affairs for the airport Shane Carter said TSA is a crucial role to the safety of the airport’s employees and the people who travel through.
“TSA partners with the airport to make sure the passengers that go out of airport and into overall aviation system are safe,” Carter said. “So, on a daily basis, you may have 4,000 passengers screened that travel across the world. TSA’s commitment to safety is vital to all of us.”
Carter said terrorists continue to get smarter as TSA continues to adapt and evolve to protect everyone.
“So far this year, TSA has intercepted 28 guns,” Carter said. “This time last year there were 21 guns confiscated. Most of the guns were loaded and those are guns brought into TSA checkpoint in a carry-on bag. What many people don’t realize is it’s against the law to bring a gun into a security checkpoint. This is a mandatory arrest when you’re caught.”
Carter said you can face criminal charges and civil penalties that can amount up to $13,000.
However, not every situation is malicious intent.
“Last week we had a gun go off outside of airport,” Carter said. “A passenger drove up to get their gun out of back of their vehicle and it accidentally discharged. Luckily, no one was hurt. Passengers need to make sure guns are not loaded and then take them to ticket counter and alert airport staff they have a gun. Then they need to go through the proper procedures.”
And it’s not guns alone they’re finding.
Carter said TSA at the Little Rock airport has confiscated thousands of pounds of knives, household cleaners, brass knuckles, grenades, stun guns and other weapons or prohibited items.
When it comes to items like grenades or other explosive devices, the airport shuts down and the bomb squad is called.
Transportation Security Specialist and Explosives Expert Gregory Bronson showed a lot of different items that have been used to try and smuggle in an explosive device.
These things were not allowed to be photographed by the media for security purposes.
If a prohibited item is found at a checkpoint, Carter said TSA representatives try to give the individual a choice between putting the item in baggage that will be stowed below the plane or getting a friend of family member to take the item home with them.
Items taken at checkpoint are sent to the surplus center in North Little Rock and disposed of.
Carter said this time of year, they see a lot of leisure travelers.
“People come through this time of year who don’t fly very often,” Carter said. “There’s often no malicious intent. In many cases, they just aren’t aware of the proper procedures and don’t know what they’re supposed to do.”
If an item even looks suspicious, it may need to be screened and can bring everything at the airport to a stop.
Carter recommends that you do your homework before you travel by making sure you know what’s in your bag and check to make sure it isn’t an item that could cause a red flag to be raised.
To learn what you can or cannot bring onto a checked bag, click here on this TSA website.