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Poll shows that travelers approve of heightened airport security; frown on communication observation

Poll shows that travelers approve of heightened airport security; frown on communication observation

By Randall Jeppesen | Posted - Sep. 10, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Ten years ago anyone could walk up to an airline gate to wish a friend or family member goodbye, but then came September 11th 2001. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security as well as the Transportation Security Administration was just the start of how security in this country would change.

"People understand that we are in a different era now and that we have to give up some of our, what we believed were rights in order to be safe and secure," said Dwayne Baird with the Utah Department of Public safety. Baird was a Salt Lake City police officer during the 9/11 attacks and was preparing for the 2002 Olympics. He later worked for the TSA and then transitioned to his current job with the state DPS.

Baird said all the law enforcement agencies he works with have made big changes in how they conduct security and that are on the lookout daily for anything that might point towards terrorism.

"As our highway patrol troopers stop people on the street they are always looking for things that are out of the ordinary --something that may trigger further investigation in order to stop someone who would do harm to us."

The color-coded security threat levels that were put in place after 9/11 have been phased out, but many other added security measures remain. ACLU of Utah executive director Karen McCreary said in many cases the security measures go too far and all the added security tools the government has given itself has led to an erosion of civil liberties through fear.

"We've moved into a surveillance society, I think it's tending toward a permanent one," said McCreary.

She adds the security you can't see is often the type that raises the most concerns.

"Whether it is surveillance methods, warrant-less wiretapping, email monitoring --now we are going after cell phone location," said McCreary.

The airport is among the most visible when it comes to added security and travelers we spoke to at Salt Lake International told us the scanners, the pat downs are worth it if it keeps them safe.

"It slows your trip down a little going through the airport but it's not too much," said one passenger arriving from Hawaii.

A mother dropping family off at the airport felt the same way. "I'd rather take my shoes off than have another 9/11 incident."

An Associate Press poll found 60 percent of Americans think the government is doing enough to protect rights and freedoms. But when asked specifically about reading email or listening to phone conversations of U.S. citizens, the approval numbers dropped to 30 percent or below.

One thing all sides agree on is 9/11 created a new world when it comes to security and it won't ever go back to the way it was.

Email:rjeppesen@ksl.com

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Randall Jeppesen

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