Terrorist False Alarm at JFK Airport Demonstrates How Unprepared We Really Are

The detailed accounts of the terrorist-shooter false-alarm at Kennedy Airport in New York last week illustrate how completely and totally unprepared the airport authorities are for any real such event.

I have two reactions to this. On the one hand, this is a movie-plot threat—the sort of overly specific terrorist scenario that doesn’t make sense to defend against. On the other hand, police around the world need training in these types of scenarios in general. Panic can easily cause more deaths than terrorists themselves, and we need to think about what responsibilities police and other security guards have in these situations.

Posted on August 19, 2016 at 2:23 PM9 Comments


Peter Shenkin August 22, 2016 10:53 PM

On the other hand, on 9/11, after Tower 2 was hit and while Tower 1 was being evacuated, the all-clear was sounded and people were told over loud-speakers to return to their offices. A friend of mine was working on the 95th floor and said, “No way — I’m outa here.” Then the second plane hit. My friend survived. Those who responded rationally and did not succumb to panic perished. Which, of course, is why evolution gave us the panic response.

ianf August 24, 2016 8:43 AM

There was nothing “alleged” about the panic that broke out in parts of Eastern seabord on that fateful 1938 day. The RADIO said the Martians have landed, high police commissioners spoke in very concerned tones i.n.d.e.e.d, background track was that of pandemonium – what’s not to panic about? (It was also the making of then 25 yo Orson Welles, because Hollywood smelled money in such a promising talent).

Radio Free Penna August 24, 2016 5:31 PM

Dubois, the famous French surgeon, had a large sign in his operating
room: “The Surgeon dresses the wound, God heals it.”

I gave all the kids Pusser sticks around Halloween for security! Have people carry Pusser sticks on the jets. Who’s gonna take over a jet with everybody carrying Pusser sticks? Tell the guards it’s a sign post!

Ben Rosengart August 24, 2016 6:59 PM

It seems to me that police should be trained to deal with situations where people are panicking and the reality is uncertain, because that will describe both false and true alarms.

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