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High-tech equipment and bomb dogs among improvements at LAX

November 8, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Scanning machines so precise they can read writing on packages inside suitcases and bomb-sniffing dogs are among the $20 million in security improvements at Los Angeles International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration bought the state-of-the-art gear for the nation’s third-busiest airport, prompted by recommendations from the White House Commission on Aviation and Security.

The commission, convened after last year’s crash of TWA Flight 800, ordered the upgrade in anti-terrorist technology at U.S. airports.

While local officials say the airport is considered a world leader in using technology to fight international terrorists, it has never had its own baggage-sniffing dog team, airport spokeswoman Cora Fossett said.

``We know about President Clinton’s concerns about security,″ Fossett said. ``LAX is a very safe airport, and we want to keep it that way.″

Among the new equipment already in place or to be installed soon are advanced detectors that can find minute traces of materials used in explosives.

New X-ray screening machines, video security equipment, baggage inspection systems and gear to aid mobile bomb disposal units are included in the upgrade.

An information campaign seeks to make passengers more aware of their role in keeping the airport safe.

``They have to keep their eyes on their own luggage,″ Fossett said.

Fifty-eight million people passed through LAX last year. On any given day, 60,000 vehicles come to the airport, along with 300,000 people, including passengers and those meeting or dropping off travelers.

Among other improvements being proposed by the LAX Security Consortium are 10-year background checks for airport, airline and contract employees.

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