Precinct 333

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Does This Really Make Us Safer?

Federal and state prosecutors have apparently decided not to prosecute or seek a civil penalty from Katheryn Stover, a special education teacher from Laurel, Maryland, for attempting to bring a "weapon" on a flight in August.

It was an 8 1/2-inch leather strap with small lead weights at each end. You can buy them at any number of bookstores throughout the country without a waiting period or background check.

She had carried it on several flights since the 2001 terrorist attacks, even through Tampa, but screeners had never noticed it, she said.

This time they did, and thought it resembled a weighted weapon that could be used to knock people unconscious. Airport police charged her with carrying a concealed weapon.

"It was a bookmark," Harrington, a special education teacher, told the St. Petersburg Times. "It's not a weapon. I could not understand why I was being handcuffed and put into a police car. I cried for hours."

Harrington, who also is a Sunday school teacher, faced a possible criminal trial, a $10,000 fine and the stigma of being deemed a security risk.

Glad we have taken care of the security threat posed by literate middle-age women. But we still let large groups of Middle Eastern and Muslim men fly together and wander freely about the plane, so we may have a way to go before the skies are safe.


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