Fiber optic alarm could enhance Love Field security

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on November 24, 2010 at 11:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 25 at 11:14 AM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS — This week, News 8 exposed a recurring security weakness at Dallas Love Field.

Now, a City Council member is pushing for change.

This summer's high-profile breach of the Love Field perimiter fence exposed a larger problem. Records obtained by News 8 show the airport fence has been damaged at least 17 times since 2006.

On five occasions, a vehicle went through the fence and onto the airfield undetected.

Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said he was "very surprised" with the results of the News 8 investigation.

After reviewing our report, Caraway said he will raise the issue of Love Field security to the full Council. In particular, he wants to explore adding concrete barriers to help prevent breaches like the ones identified by News 8.

"That is something that I will be suggesting after seeing this particular report," he said.

News 8 found a promising security enhancement at the airport in McAllen, Texas. It's the only American airport with a fiber optic cable lining the fence, which sounds an alarm if the wire shakes or breaks.

Breaches are pinpointed to within 80 feet. "I think it's 100 times better," said McAllen Airport security director Buck Taft.

CTI Consulting's Rich Roth, who does work for the Transportation Security Administration, tells News 8 that the McAllen system — with a proper response plan in place — would improve safety.

"In the end, I think it's going to be recommended for all airports," he said.

The fiber optic system costs about $500,000. The TSA says it has funding allocated for security improvements, but as a general rule, takes its lead from local airport officials.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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