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"Airport Perimeter Security: Questions Continue at RDU Int'l Airport"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Questions of Security Continue at RDU Int'l Airport
Airport Spokeswoman Gives Standard 'Layers of Security' Speech
WTVD-TV Ch 11 (ABC), Raleigh-Durham (NC)

RDU INT'L AIRPORT - Passengers are wondering just how safe RDU Int'l Airport really is after an ex-convict was found on a Delta Airline jet by cleaning crews.

Authorities say Wester, 32, managed to scale a barbed-wire fence, get on a hydraulic lift, and boost himself onto a Delta Boeing Jet 737.

The cleaning crew found the bleeding ex-convict on the plane around 2:45 a.m. Tuesday morning.

RDU spokesperson, Mindy Hamlin insists passengers weren't in any danger. "It is important to point out that at no time was the gentlemen an apparent threat to any person or any aircraft."

But some passengers disagree.

Ilene Evans has to go through security to get on a plane and she says the situation makes her nervous. "That's a potentially dangerous situation and I'm really concerned about airport security."

Aviation security expert, Charles Slepian says the man posed a serious threat. "He could have been a terrorist. He could have placed a bomb on board," Slepian explained.

Slepian says U.S. airports need to do a better job securing the outside perimeter. "You can have motion detectors out there, you could have cameras out there, you can have patrols out there, around the perimeter of an airport. It's one of the most vulnerable places that you'll find in an airfield," he said.

RDU doesn't have security cameras around the outside areas of the fence, but spokesperson Mindy Hamlin says airport employees are trained to identify people who shouldn't be in certain areas.

Delta flight #717 was cancelled and passengers were re-booked onto other flights.

Wester was arrested and charged with trespassing, illegal possession of a prescription drug and accessing an aircraft without permission. He's being held at the Wake County jail.

Airport officials say Wester was recently convicted in Wake County for breaking and entering and larceny. He is currently on probation.

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