Governor Keating vows to do whatever necessary to ensure safe airports in Tulsa and Oklahoma City

Thursday, September 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Frank Keating said Thursday he is working on a plan to temporarily use National Guard troops and local police to upgrade security at state airports.

Keating envisioned a mix of military and local officers stationed at airports in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton in compliance with a request from President Bush for beefed-up airport safety.

``I fully commit the resources of Oklahoma to that end,'' Keating said at a news conference.

Earlier, Bush called on governors to activate National Guard units to protect U.S. airports as a first step to putting the federal government in charge of airline security. Bush also pledged $500 million to upgrade security features on airplanes.

Keating said to the best of his knowledge National Guard troops had never been used to provide security at Oklahoma airports.

He said details are still being worked out, but he sees a situation where police officers will provide security inside airport terminals, with guardsmen mainly stationed on the perimeter.

He said he would talk later to the mayors of the three Oklahoma cities. He said he presumed that local police could be utilized in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers may need to provide assistance at the Lawton airport.

He said police officers are trained in the discriminate use of deadly force and National Guard troops would project an intimidating presence.

It's important to remember, Keating said, that the use of guardsmen and municipal and state political officers at airports is a stopgap measure to give travelers reassurance during trying times that they are safe.

Keating said he had been in contract with the White House, other governors and U.S. transpiration and military officials. He said he would have further discussions with Oklahoma Adjutant Gen. Stephen Cortright.

The announcement by Bush came 16 days after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Although air flights have increased to near pre-attack levels, airlines report passenger loads are only a fraction of what they were before the terrorist attacks.