Are we safer 15 years after 9/11?
ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, airports and law enforcement nationwide have changed policies in effort to better keep people out of harm's way.
The question remains are we safer now than we were 15 years ago?
When it comes to the law enforcement, Roanoke City Police Chief Tim Jones told the department has implemented preparedness, readiness and tactical training as a direct result from September 11. Before 9/11 these practices were not in place. Now, officers practice simulation drills on terrorist and biological hazard situations.
Before 9/11, liquids and people without a boarding pass were allowed past the security check point at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. After the attack, the TSA was created and only airline travelers with a ticket could pass through security. The airport has also added more cameras from almost every angle inside and out of the building, and added reinforced cockpit doors on its planes.
Despite all of the changes, Jones said terrorists are evolving.
"Terrorism is deploying itself; it's taking the opportunity by the way of social media to radicalize individuals within the United States," said Roanoke City Police Chief Tim Jones.
Jones said around the time of 9/11, more harm was caused by terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Now, police are finding more home-grown terrorists.
Jones said this is partly because of the internet and social media as outside terrorist groups are adapting with airport security changes and learning how to reach a new audience.
Still it's a thought that terrifies many.
"It's another danger if not more of a danger because some of these people are too easily influenced by propaganda on the internet," said Erik Kraker, who lives in Roanoke.
"I look at all of the effort that's been put in and the billions of dollars we've spent on all the screenings, and yet are boarders are just wide open and people can walk right in," said airport traveler Elaine Lee.
Both Jones and Bradley Boettcher, the airport's marketing and air service development manager, said as terrorists continue to evolve, so will overall safety measurements.
"I don't know if it's 100 percent preventable, but I think anytime you have somebody that's very motivated to do harm to others you know, they will probably find a way," said Bradley Boettcher, the airport's marketing and air service development manager. "But, at the same time we are very motivated to make this a safer facility as possible."
Lee and Kraker said now that the nation has ramped up airport security, they would like to see the country focus on creating stricter immigration guidelines and beefing up border patrols.
Jones says 9/11 also resulted in strengthening communication between local, state and federal branches of law enforcement.
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