By Molly Priddy, 2-21-13
||Caption: A plain-clothed Glacier Park International Airport employee demonstrates how to stand in the recently installed Advanced Imaging Technology machine. - File photo Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
The Transportation Security Administration has removed the full-body scanner from Glacier Park International Airport, which will likely mean longer security delays for travelers and the return of the enhanced pat down.
According to airport director Cindi Martin, the decision to remove the scanner had nothing to do with the Airport Authority, and was solely the TSA’s choice.
“The Airport Authority is very disappointed that TSA has made the decision to remove (the scanner),” Martin said on Feb. 20. “We do believe it’s going to cause delays in travel.”
Martin said she would like travelers to be prepared for the change in security measures at GPIA, which could include longer wait times and the “definite” return of the enhanced pat down. The pat down became an option for those passengers who refused the full-body scanner.
The move comes after the TSA decided to remove 174 full-body backscatter machines from airports around the country. The backscatter machines revealed the naked forms of passengers and caused an uproar, which led to a call from Congress for new, less-intrusive software.
TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said the software could not be developed by Congress’ June 1 deadline, according to a report from the Washington Post.
The scanner that was installed at GPIA last March is not a backscatter machine; instead of X-ray technology, it uses millimeter wave technology to detect objects on a traveler. The waves ping off travelers like sonar, and do not penetrate the body.
If the traveler passes muster, a screen outside the machine turns green and shows the word, “OK.” If there are abnormalities detected, a figure akin to a paper doll shape appears on the screen, with the troubling sections highlighted with yellow boxes. Security personnel then inspect those anomalies with a pat down.
With the removal of 174 of the backscatter machines, the millimeter wave scanner from GPIA will be moved to a larger airport to account for the backscatter loss. Martin said there is no word on whether GPIA will get another full-body scanner in the future.
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