#Avgeeks: The new warriors on terror

Posted on: June 19th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

Meet a group of people who have taken plane spotting to a whole new level.  They call themselves the ORD Airport Watch, and they’re using their love of tracking aircraft to help protect you by working with the FBI, the Transportation Security Administration and others to stop terrorists at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Police spent many years in contention with plane spotters – especially after 9/11.   Police would feel they had to waste time making sure that plane spotters weren’t terrorists, while plane spotters would feel like they had to allude police.   However, this program aims to have the two work together.  The first such program was launched in Minneapolis in 2008 with only 10 volunteers.  Chicago’s program has 162 who have logged over 5,000 hours last year.  A similar program may soon be launched in Phoenix.

While these volunteers may be spending time doing something they really enjoy, they’ve also undergone strict background checks and diligently trained to notice and report suspicious behavior.   While they are plane spotting they must carry an ID badge issued by the police station and wear an official orange vest.

Ian Hardie, ORD Airport Watch President and former air traffic controller with the Royal Navy, feels that the program should be implemented across the U.S.  He helped create a similar program in Scotland.  Frank Soto, who is village president of Bensenville, claims the program has helped reduce crime by 6% in his area and other neighboring communities around the airport.  He thinks it may be responsible for reducing crime as much as 54% since 2009.

These kinds of programs are a win-win for everyone.  They allow plane spotters to do what they love while keeping an extra pair of eyes on the ground and helping everyone else feel safer.

Read more at www.cnn.com


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