Officials to Announce Zero-Tolerance Policy for Airport Security

Officials to Announce Zero-Tolerance Policy for Airport Security

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Airport security and law enforcement officials say that a new "zero tolerance" policy on guns at Salt Lake City International Airport means guaranteed prosecutions.

The federal Transportation Security Administration on Sunday said it would announce the new policy publicly on Monday.

The plan means that passengers who show up at an airport security checkpoint with a weapon in their possession will be automatically detained and charged, whether their actions have been purposefully or unintentionally.

Previously, such situations involving weapons would be reviewed by airport security officers on a case-by-case basis, said TSA spokeswoman Suzanne Luber.

Luber said the policy will apply to all weapons, including guns covered by a state-issued concealed weapons permit. Prosecution means being detained by airport police, questioned by the FBI and then having the case forwarded to the United States Attorney's Office for formal prosecution on federal charges.

Luber said Sunday no specific incidents have sparked the policy announcement, instead calling it "a natural progression" in educating Utah airport users on security issues.

In August, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new airport crackdown on small electronic gadgets, urging added checkpoint scrutiny of items such as cell phones, cameras and car key alarms, based on fears they might be disguised bomb components.

Monday's announcement is a joint effort by the TSA, the United States Attorney's Office, Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City prosecutors, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI and the Salt Lake Airport Police Department.

"This is a final warning to passengers," Luber said. "You need to think about what's in your carryon baggage before you bring it to the airport."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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