Airport To Get Special Gates, Dogs, Trash Cans

CLEVELAND (AP) - Bomb-sniffing dogs, explosion-proof trash containers and closed-circuit television cameras are among the security improvements coming to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

A $2.3 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration will cover the bulk of the cost. Airport revenues will cover the rest of the $3 million in improvements, The Plain Dealer reported Sunday.

The federal funding offered to airports throughout the country comes from nearly $20 billion Congress authorized for domestic security after Sept. 11.

"This grant is really going to change the face of security at the airport," airport Commissioner Fred Szabo said.

Among the improvements:

  • Rolling gates capable of sealing off concourses in the event of a security breach.
  • Three bomb-sniffing dogs and new police cars for them to ride in with their handlers.
  • Explosion-proof trash containers that would absorb the impact of a bomb.
  • Closed-circuit television cameras tied into a central command center.

The grant is in addition to about $2.5 million the federal government has provided to increase the number of Cleveland police officers at the airport from 26 to 47.

While it won't be visible to travelers, the creation of a central command center may be the most significant improvement.

On Sept. 11, airport officials had to set up a makeshift command center in a conference room in the airport's administrative offices.

The new command center will be equipped with video monitors, radio systems, dispatch consoles and alarms. It will be used to coordinate the activities of police, fire and airport workers on a daily basis as well as in emergencies.

Airport officials hope that installing rolling gates at various points on the four concourses will allow them to limit the disruption caused by incidents on the secure side of the checkpoints.

For example, if there is a problem on Concourse C, security officers could close off the corridor that connects to Concourse D. That would allow planes and passengers at gates on Concourse D to take off without being rescreened.

The bombproof trash cans are part of a broader effort to protect the terminal from explosions. The terminal's windows will be coated with a protective material that absorbs energy and prevents glass from flying.

Other less-visible changes include improvements to employee identification badges, perimeter fencing and a fiber-optics system to better link cameras posted around the airport.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)