Charleston Airport Acquires Technology to Help Protect Against Active-Shooter Threat

Charleston International Airport (CHS) has selected Shooter Detection Systems’ indoor active shooter detection and reporting system Guardian as an added layer of protection in the airport terminal against the active shooter threat to airport travelers and staff.

Paul G. Campbell, Jr., executive director and CEO of the Charleston Aviation Authority, said in the event of an incident the Guardian system will quickly provide shot location information to first responders so they can respond directly to a verified threat with added situational awareness.

Although the Guardian System has been in operation at airport administrative buildings since early 2017, CHS represents the first airport to install a gunshot detection that covers a public passenger terminal.

The 2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston that claimed the lives of nine area residents, and other mass shootings that followed, sparked the airport’s search for active shooter technology. The airport terminal building includes a memorial to the lives lost at the Emanuel shooting, with the tribute serving as a reminder of the Airport Authority’s commitment to the safety of the Charleston community.

After a review of different gunshot detection systems, the airport chose Guardian for its performance, the dual-mode acoustic and infrared detection capability, and third-party qualifications of the system including SAFETY Act Certification by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The airport has selected Johnson Controls Security Solutions (Johnson Controls) to install and maintain the system.

Guardian is a system of sensors that detect acoustic gunshot signatures and the visual flash from the discharge of a weapon combined with advanced software, providing a capability that can promptly report shooting incidents to building occupants and first responders. Johnson Controls will also integrate the system with C-CURE 9000, the airport’s access control system that can be configured to create gunshot detection alarms, activate door locking or open doors for safe egress, queue cameras to record a shooter’s location, and stream live video along with associated maps to significantly reduce response time to active shooter incidents.

TSA found a record-breaking 3,957 firearms at airport security checkpoints around the country in 2017, a 17 percent increase over 2016. While firearms are not allowed in carry-on bags, they can travel in checked bags, if declared to the airline and are unloaded and properly packed in a locked, hard-sided case. Ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas also are not allowed in carry-on bags.

TSA has intercepted two loaded firearms so far this month at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Both were discovered in a passenger’s carry-on bag during checkpoint screening. In both cases, TSA notified the Austin Police Department, which interviewed the passengers and took possession of the weapons.

Passengers who bring a firearm to the checkpoint can expect a referral to law enforcement and a civil penalty from TSA, which averages almost $4,000 for a loaded weapon. While the majority of people carrying loaded guns through an airport mean no harm, the weapon can fall into the wrong hands which is why TSA requires the above precautions to be met.

In August, a federal judge sentenced Esteban Santiago to life in prison for carrying out the 2017 shooting in a Fort Lauderdale International Airport that killed five people and injured six others.

Santiago was living in Anchorage when he flew to Fort Lauderdale with a handgun checked in his luggage. Authorities said he followed the Transportation Security Administration’s protocols for checking the gun. After landing, Santiago picked up his bag, went to a bathroom and loaded the gun. He opened fire in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.

Shooter Detection Systems will soon announce additional airport and transportation venue projects where the Guardian system has been selected, and met with airport security professionals at the Airports Council International (ACI-NA) Public Safety & Security Fall Conference last week in Arlington, Va., and the 18th Annual American Association of Airport Executives AAAE/TSA/DHS Aviation Security Summit in Crystal City, Va., on Dec. 4-5, 2018.

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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