National security still priority

September 11, 2008 2:45:12 PM PDT
Since September 11, 2001, the way the government protects the nation has changed-- and continues to evolve. At the nation's airport the public has seen lots of changes -- everything from taking your shoes off at security checkpoints to some high-tech equipment changes.

"We have rules and regulations that are necessary in this day and age. What do you do?" said Dick Rockstroh, passenger.

A recent ABCNews poll has found that Americans do feel the country is safer from terrorism. Sixty-two percent of the people polled say they feel safer today. That is up from last year. While 29 percent feel less safe.

"I think they are necessary. They check you out pretty thoroughly, and we travel quite a bit, so we feel very safe," said Loanna Rockstroh, passenger.

"We have done as much as we can. All these technical things, if they're going to hurt you, they're going to," said Dennis Hardy, passenger.

Homeland Security is beginning a new initiative to close a security gap at airports. Washington's Dulles Airport will be the first to start checking cargo shipped on passengers planes for radioactive bombs. That airport now has a half-million dollar drive-through radiation detector.

Homeland Security officials expect to have radiation detectors at four other airports by the end of the year and eventually at the nation's biggest airports, including O'Hare Airport in Chicago.

Earlier this week, Mayor Daley said Chicago has been working with the federal government on keeping the city safe.

"We use state of the art technology and strategies to stay ahead of potential threats posed by any increasingly sophisticated terrorist groups," said Mayor Daley.

Just last month Homeland Security conducted a surprise security inspection of all delivery trucks heading into O'Hare. They used a mobile x-ray machine -- here for the first time -- to screen large cargo containers. Officials expect to have the new security screening procedure permanent at O'Hare by 2010.

In an attempt to streamline their look, air transportation security personnel at O'Hare and the country's other airports will get new uniforms Thursday.

"It lets the public know that we're serious about what we do at airport," said Robert Jennings, TSA Officer.

TSA says the new look represents a cultural shift that focuses on security and new technological innovations but also customer service.

"I think a lot of people don't really understand exactly what our job entails every single day when we come to work, so being able to talk to people and get up in front and speak to someone and say hello, how are you doing, where are you headed today? I think it is just going to show people that we care," said Annie Gregg, TSA Officer.

TSA is working on some changes that are going to make it easier for passengers. In August, they will begin accepting laptop-friendly bags so you don't have to take your computer out. They're also working on full body scanners and looking into a shoe scanner so you don't have to take your shoes off.


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