Amazing to think that something so simple, inexpensive and effective has been overlooked for this long.
The newest tool at airport security checkpoints is 3 inches long and costs only a few dollars: a handheld black light.
Airport screeners are starting to use them this month to examine driver’s licenses and other passenger ID cards presented at checkpoints to spot forgeries or tampering. Passengers with suspicious documents can be questioned by police or immigration agents.
Black lights will help screeners inspect the ID cards by illuminating holograms, typically of government seals, that are found in licenses and passports. Screeners also are getting magnifying glasses that highlight tiny inscriptions found in borders of passports and other IDs. About 2,100 of each are going to the nation’s 800 airport checkpoints.
The closer scrutiny of passenger IDs is the latest Transportation Security Administration effort to check passengers more thoroughly than simply having them walk through metal detectors.
In the past six months, the agency has been taking over the checking of passenger IDs and boarding passes at airport checkpoints. For years, security guards hired by airlines have done that.
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“This is a significant security upgrade,” TSA chief Kip Hawley says. Screeners are trained in spotting forged documents and will get some training in studying suspicious passenger behavior to pick out people who merit deeper scrutiny at the checkpoint, Hawley says.
The TSA screeners, unlike security guards, also get daily briefings on the latest airport security concerns.
More than 40 passengers have been arrested since June in cases when TSA screeners spotted altered passports, fraudulent visas and resident ID cards, and forged driver’s licenses. Many of them were arrested on immigration charges.