Proposal would allow local police to screen passengers at Albany International Airport

COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Security lines at Albany International Airport could soon become the example for other airports around the state.

A new law proposed in Albany County would give local police power to conduct extra screenings on certain travelers the TSA flags as suspicious or travelers who decide to stop being screened.

The law would be the first of its kind in the country, giving more power to the Sheriff’s Office at the airport to make arrests.

Sheriff Craig Apple said it’s a way to prevent terrorists from making “dry runs” at the airport.

“We simply want to be able to ask that person if there is a problem, why aren’t you finishing the screening?” Sheriff Apple said. “We don’t want to be locking people up, but we need a reason to be able to stop them and talk to them and let us feed off their behaviors.”

Some are not thrilled about the new concept. The New York Civil Liberties Union says additional security screenings by deputies wouldn’t add safety, it would add confusion.

The problem? Too many wrongful arrests.

“The concern is it will leave to excessive intrusive stops and searches that do not enhance security, but to simply obstruct and invade people’s privacy,” NY Civil Liberties Union Robert Perry said.

Perry says he worries that people could be wrongfully targeted including Muslims, or certain ethnic groups. He also says he is concerned about people suffering from mental illness or anxiety about being touched or flying could be wrongfully arrested.

“Unintentionally or not there may be profiling of passengers. Secondly a person who is experiencing nervousness, perhaps even a panic disorder about flying can now become subject to heightened security and perhaps arrest.”

Most travelers who spoke with NEWS10 ABC’s Noel McLaren says the more security, the better. They say they would welcome more support from the Sheriff’s Department.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at the Albany County Courthouse.

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