Sioux Falls Airport Updates Security

Sioux Falls Airport Updates Security

by Maren Larson
March 08, 2012 5:30 PM

Standard security at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport changed on Thursday.

A new advanced imaging body scanner was installed last week, but screening of passengers using the new technology started on Thursday.

Airport officials say the new image technology upgrade is an important addition to stop potential metallic and non-metallic threats.

It may look different, but the goal stays the same: keep airline passengers safe.

“This is an enhancement that will not only stream line the security screening process but provided another layer of safety and security,” said Dan Letellier, executive director of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.

The machine uses millimeter wave technology, which bounces harmless electromagnetic waves off the body to create a black and white image. Passengers are still required to remove their shoes before being scanned; but a big difference from the metal walk-through detectors is that a person must remove everything from their pockets, even items that are not made of metal.

“This technology safely screens passengers for both metallic and non-metallic threats including weapons and explosives without physical contact,” said TSA Federal Security Director for South Dakota, Mark Heisey.

A person stands in the scanner with their arms above their head for about three seconds as the machine quickly scans the body. If nothing is detected, an ‘OK’ symbol shows up on the screen. But if items are detected, the screen shows officers exactly where the items were found so they know where to search.

Airport officials say the process will be faster and will allow for more flexibility when it comes to who can go through the scanner. It’s designed to find potential threats on the outside of the body, so things internally that were detected by a metal detector will not be a problem with the new scan.

“Folks who have prosthetics or maybe a hip replacement can now go through this technology and not necessarily be subject to a pat down every time,” said Heisey.

For now, the Sioux Falls Airport only has one of the body scanners; but the cost of just one of them is about $150,000.

A passenger can choose not to go through the advanced imaging system, but then will be screened by a metal detector and potentially subject to a pat down.

There are about 630 body scanners in 150 airports across the country.

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