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How 9/11 changed security at Dane County Regional Airport

Security risk assessment technology continues to evolve at the Madison airport.
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 3:59 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Travelers passing through the Dane County Regional Airport today likely wouldn’t recognize what it looked like before September 11, 2001.

“It’s a night and day difference from early 2001 to present day,” said Michael Riechers, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Dane County Regional Airport.

He says 20 years ago, renovations had to be done to make way for a security checkpoint.

“We made physical changes to the airport,” said Riechers. “We renovated the security areas, the bag screening areas, and provided the space that the TSA needed in order to improve the security measures for passengers traveling through the airport.”

Riechers says travel now is a much safer experience now than it was then.

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“9/11 really just put it into perspective for everyone,” said Jessica Mayle, the Public Affairs Specialist for the Great Lakes Region of the Transportation Security Administration.

The agency was created in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Soon after, all airports were required to screen all checked bags and federal airport screeners were put into place to handle security. Prior to 9/11, many airport or airlines hired their own private companies to screen passengers ahead of boarding.

Mayle says TSA officers make passenger safety a priority.

“‘Never again’ isn’t really just an expression for the for the TSA officers who are working every day,” said Mayle. “They really take their job seriously. They want to protect every single person who’s traveling.”

Throughout the years, risk assessment technology has evolved to make air travel even safer.

“TSA is going to stay one step ahead,” said Mayle. “Just as the threats will continue to change and technology will continue to evolve I think people can feel confident that TSA will continue to work to protect them.”

Some new technology already in place at the Dane County Regional Airport includes credential authentication technology or CAT screening.

“It authenticates you as a passenger without you needing the boarding pass. It just scans your ID,” said Riechers. “It’s really a big improvement for both technology and screening and efficiency.”

Other programs, like TSA Pre-check, can also help with airport safety instead of just convenience in getting through a checkpoint more quickly.

“We want to spend our resources and our time on the travelers who we know the least about who represent the greatest risk,” said Mayle. “If we know more about you, we might be able to say this traveler represents a lower risk.”

To view the security requirements or changes to checkpoints, click HERE.

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