What Good is Security When There are Lapses Such as These?

“W ell, the other day I was walking through a checkpoint when the person in front of me was told by the security officer to place his small backpack on the xray belt. He kept walking slowly and the security officer kept his hand in front of the man trying to stop him for about 10 feet. Then, a dejected look came over his face and he gave up. He looked at me with embarrassment and then directed me to place my bag.”

Shawn Coomer of Miles to Memories continued with his experience regarding what he considers a defect in security of the Shanghai Metro — a train system on which I have ridden as a passenger — in this article. “I didn’t think much of it at the time and figured it was just an isolated incident. Until I saw it happen again and again and AGAIN. Four times in three days I watched people completely ignore security officers who pleaded with them to place their bags on the scanner. In CHINA! It is obvious that these officers have no authority or people would listen. The government spent millions to install and man these stations, but it is all a show. Security theater at its finest.”

What Good is Security When There are Lapses Such as These?

Shawn Coomer is not the the only person to have witnessed what could be considered a major security lapse.

Within recent months, I was at a major venue for an event at which I was in attendance. After parking the vehicle which I was driving on the street not far outside of the venue, I simply chose the nearest major entrance into the building, as I did not know which entrance to use. I opened the door and walked in with my camera bag. Nobody checked my tickets. Nobody stamped my hand. Nobody questioned me as I walked towards where the people were located.

One of the people whom I knew which attended the event had informed me that attendees were allowed to carry items only in a limited number of approved clear bags; and that the items which they brought into the venue were sniffed by dogs before their tickets were checked and their hands were stamped. When this person saw that my hand was not stamped; my tickets were untouched; and the camera bag which I carried into the venue with me was clearly not on the list of approved clear conveyances, this person wondered what in the world was the point of the strict security for this event…

…and I wondered the same thing.


I do not want to reveal the venue nor the date of the event nor the city in which it is located because the response to a security lapse is a significant overcorrection designed more to inconvenience innocent people who abide by the law than the nefarious potential suspects who are looking to commit some act of terrorism in order to advance an agenda about which they are passionate enough to cause mayhem.

For me, there is little difference between lapses in security which Shawn Coomer and I either witnessed or experienced and those of commercial aviation in general. According to this article written by Jeffrey Dastin and Julia Edwards for Reuters, the Transportation Security Administration has been working to improve airport screening after major lapses last year; and according to this article written by Jennifer Steinhauer for The New York Times, “The Senate passed several provisions to bolster security throughout the nation’s transportation system” in its first legislative response to the attacks on the airport and train station in Belgium on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 in which 35 people were killed and greater than 300 people were injured.

Those are only two of a number of articles which address the shortcomings of security in the United States alone; and that does not include other countries around the world.

In my opinion — as I first stated in this article pertaining to whether or not some Transportation Security Administration agents should be armed — the answer is to improve the policies of the Transportation Security Administration so that the traveling public is inconvenienced as little as possible while moving through the airport security checkpoint as quickly as possible. Stop forcing people to take their shoes off. Allow passengers to carry a drink with them and carry essential liquids — such as shampoo and toothpaste — instead of limiting them or banning them. Do not have security in general emulate something along the lines of a police state…

…and most of all, a passenger should not feel like he or she is being assaulted or treated like a criminal when passing through a security checkpoint at an airport — or anywhere else, for that matter. Whether at an airport, train station, stadium, concert hall or other venue, security should be smart, efficient and effective — not merely an expensive display in which people are shown the conspicuousness of security as measured by how much they are unnecessarily inconvenienced; as well as charged a price for security policies and procedures which should automatically be available to the majority of the public.

 Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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