Anne Jefferson, a Winona native, recently minted Ph.D. and researcher in the geosciences department at Oregon State University, concluded a combined business and holiday trip to Minnesota on Sunday, dropping off a rental car at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport before boarding a plane to Portland, Ore., with her husband.
By the time they arrived there, armed officers were waiting for them, and in the Twin Cities, portions of the Lindbergh terminal parking ramp had been closed for about two hours after authorities found a suspicious looking device in the spare tire compartment of the couple's rental car.
It was actually equipment that Jefferson had been using in her research on water temperatures in stream channels. She intended to mail it back to Oregon, but she just forgot about it.
She had picked up the device, called the Stowaway Tidbit Temp Loggers, from the St. Anthony Falls Lab along the Mississippi River on Wednesday. The equipment includes several lengths of 1-inch plastic pipe filled with gravel, all linked to 15 flashing electronic monitors. She stowed it in the tire compartment to keep the gravel from showering all over the trunk.
An airline agent met them at the gate. "So did five uniformed airport police with flak jackets and guns," Jefferson said. "They asked us if we knew what this was about. We said we had left some scientific equipment in a rental car." The interrogation took about 20 minutes, and after a call to Minneapolis, the couple was released. "Everyone was really decent," Jefferson said.
Her equipment didn't fare as well. Officers with the Bloomington Police Department bomb squad destroyed it.
End of quote.
Along with all the data, and the hard work it took to collect it, I guess.
Why in the world would the police destroy the equipment so quickly? Here's a picture I found of the "suspicious looking equipment."
Remember, this thing was in the trunk of an Avis rental car, about a half mile from the nearest runway, not on the tarmac or in the terminal.
Yes airline security is important, but all this paranoia, and rote following of draconian procedures means no flexibility, no common sense, and second chances. Looks like another win for the real terriorists.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Blowing Up Scientific Equipment in the Name of Security
I like blowing things up as much as the next guy, maybe even more than most. But are the Bloomington (MN) police a little too quick on the ignition plunger?
Here's a story today's (Nov 28) from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: