Despite the many new rules affecting how passengers fly in commercial aviation these days, I still love to fly. I will never get over the fact that if I can afford the price of the airline ticket, there is almost no place on this planet that I cannot reach within a day or two. My daughter is a graduate student in New Zealand, my son is graduating from law school next week in Oregon, and with a little patience I can be with them, and they with me, when the occasion calls for it. I am an unabashed fan of the Wright Brothers, for they have provided me access to a world that, as child growing up in the Bronx in 1940s and 50s, I could only dream of visiting. While at times I am as frustrated and outraged as any traveler over the new security conditions imposed us in a world preoccupied with terrorism, I never consider not traveling because of it.
I recently delivered back-to-back 90-minute lectures to three groups of New York City high school teachers on preventing violence from erupting in their classrooms. Amazed at the statistics regarding the size of the damage awards that have been paid out by the city arising out of negligent security claims against its public schools, the groups began to perceive the nature of the problem from a new perspective: that of a litigant.
Decades ago, I attended the funeral for six-year-old Adam Walsh, who had been abducted from a Florida department store while his mother was shopping close by. The case remains an open homicide in Hollywood, FL, almost 23 years, later despite the efforts of Adam’s father, television personality, John Walsh (“America’s Most Wanted”) to have his son’s killer brought to justice.
Now that the media interested in evaluating airport security six months after 9/11 been heard from, the consensus is that screening personnel will make or break an airport’s security program. In reports from the New York Times, MSNBC, and even a special prepared by the Arts and Entertainment channel, praise and criticism of airport security programs is focused on the personnel who each day must process approximately two million airline passengers at America’s 429 commercial airports. And while the new security technologies being developed every day haven’t, for the most part, gone beyond the testing stage, they too will succeed or fail in improving the quality of airport security based upon how well screening and other security personnel use them.