The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday June 10th

Airports May See More Security

Officials hope the added presence of National Guard units will boost consumers' confidence in airport safety.

Bush announced Thursday that the National Guard will be deployed to major airports nationwide to provide added security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The federal government will pay added expenses for the almost 4,000 National Guard members deployed nationwide.

Gov. Mike Easley announced Friday that troops will be sent this week to 12 major N.C. airports, including Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Easley's Press Secretary Fred Hartman said the state is willing to comply with Bush's request.

"North Carolina will do whatever we have to do and whatever we're asked to do to protect the people," Hartman said.

He said 80 to 90 troops will be sent to airports throughout the state.

Hartman said troops will receive special training from the Federal Aviation Administration before they are deployed.

Hartman also said Easley's office plans to aid the federal government. "We're willing to do whatever is needed to make our state as safe as possible."

But Mirinda Kossoff, communications manager at RDU, said the airport has its own police force already, meaning a military presence might not be necessary.

As of Friday, RDU officials had not received any orders from the governor's office about National Guard presence.

But Kossoff stressed that a public perception of safety is essential to keep the airport's business from declining any further.

"It's just a question of people regaining their confidence," she said. "Our economy depends on (confidence). It has such a ripple effect everywhere."

Easley also stated in a Sunday press release that improved airport security was crucial to regaining public confidence in air travel. "The economy of the state and nation depends upon safe and efficient air travel," the release stated. "At a time when the private sector is stretched thin, it is vital that we have a highly-trained personnel in charge of security at the airports."

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