NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The rampage in Fort Lauderdale exposed yet another security hole at our nation's airports, which led to an increased security at airports in our area.
A soft target is an area that's relatively unsecure -- a public space that's potentially vulnerable. Locations such as the baggage claim in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were considered a ‘soft target.’ In response, airports across the Tri-State area stepped up patrols, a show of force that's visible even before you step inside the terminal."
From emergency service unit teams, National Guard units, and armored vehicles at the curb to officers with automatic rifles in the terminal, a beefed up police presence at area airports was obvious and intentional.
Jodi Blanchard, like many others, tried her best not to let fear keep her from flying, “I thought about buying a bullet proof vest.”
Blanchard was scheduled on one of the first flights from LaGuardia to Fort Lauderdale after the shooting.
“It was definitely slower going through security. They were patting everyone down. They checked everybody,” she said.
Additional TSA screening, would likely not have stopped the Florida shooter.
Authorities said Esteban Santiago checked his handgun legally before retrieving it, loading it, and firing in the baggage area of the terminal. Once inside the system, it's a worst case scenario for law enforcement.
“The public has to be cognizant -- Movie theatres, hotels, restaurants—don’t be paranoid, just be educated. Think, “how to I exit?” said Michael Valenti, former Deputy Chief of Police and Counter-Terrorism with the Port Authority.
Valenti said options to create safer zones around soft targets like pick-up and drop off sections of transit hubs should include adding security checkpoints further from the gates.
“We have to look at pushing those perimeters out and find a way to get those resources to keep everyone safe,” he said.
“Things happen, and you just have to live your life,” said John St. Jeanos, who did not plan to change his trip to Florida. What he does know is that plans to keep people safe may have to change, “It's taking things to a new level such as adding security inside the gates and outside the gates.”