February 15, 2006

SIUC to host aviation security conference

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Experts will discuss and debate the state of American aviation security as it approaches a pivotal time during a statewide conference this spring at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The conference is set for Monday, April 3, at the SIUC Student Center.

Julie Raines, an instructor in the public administration program in the political science department, said panelists will discuss the country's approach to airline security in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and whether the government should make modifications.

Raines, who holds a doctorate in public administration and a law degree and also worked in airline security using her fluent French language skills, said the country is approaching a crossroads on the issue.

First, airports soon may choose whether to privatize security forces as legislation federalizing all such security employees expires. Experts expect fierce debate over which kind of security force provides the best protection.

At the same time, new technologies may influence the nation's approach to aviation security.

At the heart of the debate, Raines said, is whether security personnel should focus on looking for "bad people" or "bad things."

"So far, our policy has been to look for bad things and use technology for that," Raines said. She contrasted that with the highly successful security record of the Israeli airline El Al, which focuses on screening passengers.

"Aviation security is one of those things we can all relate to because we all fly," said Raines, who teaches a master's level course on airport management and security at SIUC. "But it's also one of those issues that's been very low on the radar."

The keynote speaker, R. William Johnstone, is a co-author of the report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, which investigated the Sept. 11 attacks. He also is the author of "9/11 and the Future of Aviation Security," due for publication this spring. Johnstone has almost 30 years in the public policy research and advisement realm.

Matthew Summy, deputy director of Homeland Security Market Development in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will speak in the morning.

Raines said panelists include airline and security experts, trade organization members, members of the academic community and governmental officials. Discussion topics include new security technology and its implementation, privacy and civil liberty issues and solutions.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIUC, the College of Liberal Arts, the provost's office and the Department of Political Science are co-sponsoring the conference.

Serving others and creating citizen-leaders are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.