The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) is equipping members of its elite Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) with 30 Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine guns, making Logan International Airport the first airport in the country to have a specialized police unit fully trained to use automatic weapons. The MP-5, designed for close-quarters use, is the standard issue weapon for premier anti-terrorist units worldwide and offers Logan troopers improved accuracy, control and firepower.
"Passengers passing through Logan can have peace of mind knowing that we have invested in the best equipment, the best training and the best personnel for their safety and security," said Massport CEO Craig P. Coy. "The first objective of good security is deterrence and in the hands of a well-trained professional, the MP-5 is a serious deterrent."
The specially-trained Massachusetts State Police unit established by Massport in April, 2002 is responsible for conducting security sweeps, roadblocks, surveillance, counter surveillance, covert security testing, intelligence gathering and sharing and passenger behavior pattern recognition (BPR). The unit's mission is to maintain a proactive presence in all sectors of the airport community and implement preemptive measures to help ensure the safety of the public and Logan employees. It also acts as a rapid response team to terrorist incidents or other high-risk situations. As an additional layer of security, members assist the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and law enforcements agencies with an array of duties and activities.
ATU members undergo an intensive training course to become certified on the MP-5 submachine gun. The training includes live-fire drills, night firing and special tactics. The initial courses will be augmented with additional training scheduled to take place throughout the year. The new weapons are issued with a 30-round clip and have a two-round burst capacity (allowing two shots to be fired automatically with one trigger depression). Firearms like the MP-5 have been in place in many foreign airports for more than a decade. The weapons will be deployed at Logan in June, 2003.
"Ultimately, good security is good customer service," continued Coy. "Whether we are building new walkways or designing a premier 100% bag screening system, we are making Logan a center of excellence for smart and effective transportation and security solutions."
Massport's decision to equip its elite police unit with MP-5 automatic weapons is the latest in a series of nationally-recognized aviation security initiatives. In June, 2002, Logan Airport became the first major airport to have a 100% inline baggage screening plan approved by the TSA. Today, Logan Airport is the only major international U.S. airport with a fully automated, inline bag screening system. In addition, Logan was the first airport to implement advanced identification verification technology and provide State Police troopers with handheld computers for background checks.
To augment these technological security measures, Massport has also trained State Police troopers to proactively assess travelers' behavior through the use of behavior pattern recognition (BPR), a procedure based on 30 years of Israeli airport security experience. Designed to identify hostile intent, troopers utilizing the BPR procedure observe and interview passengers and others in the airport's terminals, curbs, roads, and parking garages.