Teachout Security Solutions


X-Ray Machine Limitations in Security

Does your security at access control points implement X-ray and metal detector technology?

You may be surprised that X-ray equipment is not a comprehensive solution. In 1970, x-ray screening of carry-on bags was implemented in airports to increase aviation security (Szyliowicz., & Zamparini, 2018). After the attacks on September 11, 2001, aviation security was restructured. On November 19, 2001, the Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) was established. This newly established government agency took the lead in securing our airports and other forms of public transportation away from private security providers and placed it in the hands of the federal government.

The substantial increase in staffing and the government-funded technology for aviation security were unprecedented.

Unfortunately, this extensive increase in manpower and technology has not made any of us safer.

During the Department of Homeland Security Red Team testing conducted in 2015, team members were able to get weapons, explosives, and drugs through TSA security checkpoints in 67 out of 70 test runs (TSA.gov, 2021). That equates to a 96% failure rate. These numbers improved in 2022, with only a 70% failure rate (TSA.gov, 2022). With the vast amount of money and training afforded to the TSA, one would think that these numbers would be much lower. Unfortunately, the ability of TSA screeners and their equipment is not a complete solution to the security of airport access points.

As noted by the Transportation and Safety Administration statistics, metal detectors and X-ray machines cannot be considered a solution to access point security alone. A comprehensive training program for security staff in these technologies is imperative. X-ray equipment should be utilized to identify those items that may be a threat and require further investigation. Items that look suspicious should be removed for identification.

X-ray equipment cannot always clearly provide the conclusive identification of a threat. As security professionals, we must evaluate the threat level and determine what systems, training, and protocols best suit the situation.

Author: Michael Morgan MA., Doctoral Candidate, Teachout Security Solutions Training & Corporate Compliance Officer

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