Random searches added at Austin Straubel

BY MIKE HOEFT • [email protected] • May 29, 2008

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Visitors entering Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon faced random searches today as part of a new joint security initiative designed to deter terrorists.

VIPR teams -- short for visible intermodal protection response – are meant to add additional layers of protection for the traveling public, said Timothy Decker, director of the Transportation Security Administration in Green Bay.

“It’s been done about 90 times across the country. This is the first time in Green Bay,” Decker said. He expected VIPR teams to be in use two or three times a year, although smaller operations are ongoing throughout the year.

VIPR teams are used in various mass transit sites alongside local law enforcement agencies. The teams often include federal air marshals, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers, canine teams, surface transportation security inspectors and local law enforcement officers.

Bill LaPalm of Menominee, Mich., who drove to Austin Straubel for a business flight, said it took about 1 to 2 minutes to have his vehicle checked this morning. He said it caused him no extra problem.

“It’s all good to keep everyone safe,” LaPalm said.

Smaller airports deserve the same scrutiny as larger airports, Decker said.

“Once you pass through security here, you’re inside the system,” he said.

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