Stover: That we’re no better off since 9/11. That just drives me crazy when I hear somebody say that. It is the most ignorant statement that I think I’ve heard in aviation security. All of the law enforcement, regulatory agencies, airports and their security staff and operations staff are working very hard since 9/11 and I don’t believe we’re just lucky, I believe that the things we’re doing as a nation to defend our airports against acts of terror is because we have layers and layers of security that never existed prior to 9/11. People that are complacent don’t understand the terrorist mind frame. Many people think retaliatory acts usually take place immediately after an incident. In the mind of a terrorist, they’ll take decades for that right opportunity to retaliate and we have to be mindful of that. One of the biggest challenges I face as a security manager is dealing with an adversary that’s willing to commit suicide for their radical religious beliefs, not an even playing field.
SIW: Most of the news we see about airport security is usually negative, what do you think needs to be done to improve the image of security at airports around the nation?
Stover: I believe that airports and governmental agencies need to be more proactive about what they’re doing in security rather than reacting to stories because of theft or criminal activity that an airport worker was engaged in. I believe we should get ahead of these messages. The public should know what we’re doing overall in the arena of security and aviation security, rather than waiting for stories to break that are embarrassing and don’t give the full picture. For example, the screeners that are being arrested. Most people would think that’s terrible, well, you know, we hire from the human race so bad things do happen, there are rotten apples out there that are not representative of the agency’s mission overall. What it tells me is that airports that have been in the limelight because of dishonest screeners are actually doing something about the problem. This is the good news.
SIW: What do you want the biggest takeaway to be for people who watch the show?
Stover: We want people to see the human side of MIA. We’re not looking to change peoples’ opinions, just give them an educated one and we want people to know what it’s like running a major international airport – that one thing, one delay, one cancellation can cause a cascading effect across the entire operation and even the aviation system.