Security Study Calls for Faster Check-Ins at L.A. Airport

Moving travelers more quickly through check-in and screening at Los Angeles International Airport is the cheapest way to protect them from a potential terror attack, according to a new study commissioned by the city.

Slow screenings have created long lines on sidewalks and in lobbies that are a ``tempting target for terrorists,'' the Rand Corporation said in a 47-page report released Friday.

The study called for a series of relatively low-cost changes including a recommendation that the city spend about $4 million annually to add workers at curbside and security checkpoints.

It also advised the airport to run background checks on all its personnel, screen cargo for explosives and build permanent vehicle checkpoints.

A second part of the study, expected to be completed next year, will examine Mayor James Hahn's $9 billion plan to modernize the airport, which has been opposed by community members and some on the City Council. Rand said its initial proposals could be implemented far quickly than such a dramatic makeover.

Hahn praised the study, saying the findings are consistent with issues raised by airport and security officials.

``If we can figure out ways to eliminate long lines, then we should do that quickly,'' he said. However, he added, ``We're going to need (financial) help.''

The study proposed forming a SWAT team to reduce an attack by armed terrorists. ``There is a distinct possibility that the existing airport police force might not be able to respond effectively to such an attack,'' researchers said. Researchers also suggested installing a fence with motion detection to deter intruders.

Rand said the airport should not divert vehicles to remote parking lots and bus passengers to terminals, a far more expensive option than simply reducing check-in lines.

Hahn's plan, introduced shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, would redirect private vehicles to a check-in center, demolish three terminals and replace parking garages with a central terminal complex.

The airport, among the world's busiest, is considered one of California's biggest terror targets. It has twice been targeted for attacks _ a foiled bomb plot planned for around New Year's Day 2000, and a shooting at a check-in counter that left three dead on July 4, 2002.