TSA stops stunning number of dangerous items at Milwaukee airport

TSA stops stunning number of dangerous items at Milwaukee airport

By Tom Murray. CREATED Nov 15, 2012

MILWAUKEE - TODAY'S TMJ4 asked the Transportation Security Administration to reveal what their officers catch when they screen passengers in Milwaukee.  We were stunned at just how many dangerous weapons officers stop, including many items that could do a lot of harm in the wrong hands.

The TSA estimates about 10,000 travelers catch a plane from Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport everyday.

Most frequent fliers contend they know what is not allowed on board.

"Obviously, no weapons," said traveler Rob Goetz.

"Knives, cigarette lighters," said passenger Matthew Kedinger.

Over the last decade, the rules covering what is and what is not permitted on board have not changed that much.

So TODAY'S TMJ4 was surprised when TSA officer Sue Labinski showed reporter Tom Murray what they caught: a self defense weapon called a kubotan, scissors, bulky pocket tools, replica guns, fake bullets on a belt and an overwhelming number of knives.

"Four days on just one checkpoint is what this accounts for," Labinski said.

There were two full bins plus several dozens items spread out on a table surrendered by travelers at a single checkpoint over that four day period.

"They say they weren't aware they were in their bags or they were not aware they were not allowed through the checkpoint," Labinski said.

While many may not realize that hand weights are not allowed or that you cannot pack darts in your carry-on, it is puzzling how someone would not think twice about trying to bring a long blade hunting knife through airport security.

The TSA insists most dangerous items are packed by mistake or by someone who does not know the rules, like those not-so-frequent flyers who travel just for the holidays.

Milwaukee Federal Security Director Louis Traverzo concedes prohibited items occasionally slip by.

"I would like to think our folks are perfect.  They're not," Traverzo said.

Traverzo said it is difficult to know the intent of that next traveler in line.

"In our business, there's that saying that the bad guys only have to get it right one time.  We have to get it right all the time," he explained.

The TSA has posted helpful hints for holiday travelers on its website.