Lt. Bill Simpson, patrol commander of the Kansas City International Airport police unit, says KCI passengers should know that “we have people we don’t talk about … eyes and ears at the terminals, at the airport, at all times.”
No preparation can be fail-safe, but Simpson said Friday afternoon — after fatal shootings occurred at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida — that “you do the best with what you have.”
There are police and Transportation Security Administration security personnel throughout the two KCI terminals, but, of course, “it’s hard to say they’d be at the exact spot where something happens,” he said.
That’s why security forces rely on the assistance of airport cameras and, most particularly, the vigilance of passengers and other airport workers.
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“If you see something suspicious, no matter how silly you might feel, say something. Pick up a white airport security phone. Go to a store or airport office and tell a worker,” Simpson said. “It’s not crazy to call. We’d rather react and find out it’s nothing than to miss something.”
Immediately after news broke of the gunman in Florida, airport security people throughout the country activated their communication networks, and airports put their own forces on alert.
KCI didn’t bring in any extra security personnel, Simpson said, but it did prioritize security in the terminals.
“We all email each other...discuss the security each is doing,” Simpson said. “We learn from each other.”
Unfortunately, this time, “our hearts go out to the victims’ families,” Simpson said. “You never know if something is going to happen, so we try to do the best we can to prevent” a tragedy.
At KCI on Friday afternoon, some flights were redirected, delayed or canceled, possibly related to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood shutdown.
A Southwest Airlines flight bound for Fort Lauderdale was redirected, according the KCI flight tracker.