Born in the wake of 9/11, the TSA's top priority is safety. They accomplish that, through layers of ever-evolving security procedures. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -
Technology and training. Those are two things the TSA relies on to keep the flying public safe. The Transportation Security Administration hosted a behind the scenes tour of airport security on Wednesday.
Born in the wake of 9/11, the TSA's top priority is safety. They accomplish that, through layers of ever-evolving security procedures.
Anyone who's flown before knows the first order of security: Show your boarding pass and ID. That initial position is called the TDC, or Travel Document Checker.
"We're going to shine that on the ID and it also shows up security features, which is usually a hologram,” said TSA agent, Mike Thompson, as he shined a black light on a drivers license.
Gulfport was among the first airports to receive the advanced imaging system. That's where you get in the tube and raise your hands above your head.
"It can tell whether you have something hidden under your clothing that could be a threat. If something is under your clothing, a yellow box will appear on the screen," said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.
High tech gadgets can also test for explosives.
"If I had patted someone down and tested my gloves, this is going to tell me if that person had any trace of explosives on their clothing," said Thompson, as he demonstrated the wand that can check for traces of explosives.
One security check you've probably not seen is just behind the ticket counter area. That’s the place where your checked baggage gets a thorough scan and review before it's loaded in the belly of the airplane.
TSA relies on various layers of scans and checks. And the feedback from most passengers is positive.
"They realize we're here for their safety. And they appreciate it. We generally don't get any flak from the public, like we did initially. But it's really been great," said TSA agent, Steve Verrett, who went to work for the security team shortly after 9/11.
The TSA procedures and checks are constantly evolving. One change that's on the horizon involves electronics.
"You will have to take all of your electronics that are larger than a cell phone and put them in the bin. We know that there is an ongoing threat to alter electronics so they can have explosives in them," Koshetz explained.
Last year, the TSA agents at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport screened 312,000 passengers and scanned some 850,000 bags.