BOSTON Logan International Airport is now home to the nation’s first airport-based counterterrorism office aimed at improving communication and collaboration between federal and local agencies.
Eight agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration, will work at the FBI’s newly opened Joint Terrorism Task Force offices at Logan. Officials hope the multiagency office will aid the airport’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches.
“No one agency can accomplish this important task alone,” Richard DesLauriers, FBI special agent in charge of the Boston office, said at a news conference Tuesday announcing the opening of the office. The FBI, with the U.S. Department of Justice, has task forces in 106 cities nationwide, but this is the first to be located at an airport.
The office will allow agencies to share information and work together with state and local police on investigations and research. It also will allow officials to share access to databases and collaborate quickly if there is a terrorist attack at or originating from the airport.
“One of the things that stands out about (Sept. 11) is the cooperation and assistance that we received from other state and local and federal agencies that are here with us today,” said Edward Freni, aviation director for the Massachusetts Port Authority, the state agency that runs the airport.
The two planes flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York on Sept. 11 were hijacked from Logan. Freni, director of aviation operations at the time, said MassPort has felt a need to be the forefront of security procedures, technologies and communication.
“There is no question that if anything good came from that horrible tragedy 10 years ago next month it was the spirit of cooperation and respect that pervades everyone who attends our early 8:30 morning (meetings) every day,” Freni said.
Since the attacks, MassPort has changed security and surveillance procedures and has worked to improve communication by holding daily meetings with security and airline staff, state police and federal agencies at the airport. Officials say the new on-site office will keep those officials in contact throughout the day.
“As a criminal element transforms and adapts, so should law enforcement and its investigative method. And we are continuously faced, especially after 9/11, with numerous challenges that we need to work together to collaborate and meet those challenges on,” said U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, who called the on-site task force “groundbreaking.”
The new office’s work is not expected to affect customers flying to and from Logan, and officials hope much of their work will go unnoticed.
“There’s an awful lot of work that gets done that the public will never see … and in many ways that’s a good thing,” Ortiz said.