OU college gets federal money to train airport screeners

Sunday, May 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The federal government has awarded a $1.2 million contract to the University of Oklahoma to recruit and train instructors for a new airport security program.

Dick Hall, business development and special project coordinator for OU's College of Continuing Education, said the grant is through the federal Transportation Security Administration, which is trying to federalize all airport security screeners by November.

``Those workers are currently private employees hired by the airlines,'' Hall said. ``TSA is bringing 32,000 people on board to man these security checkpoints at all of the 429 airports in the nation.''

Hall said employees will be required to undergo a week of training and must take a test before being accepted into federal service.

He said the College of Continuing Education will recruit, hire and train between 60 and 70 instructors for training courses.

Much of the training currently takes place at the Federal Aviation Administration training center in Oklahoma City.

``All we're doing is providing contract-type instructors,'' Hall said. ``We've recruited across the nation, and we have quite a few highly qualified people who have backgrounds in law enforcement who will be trained as trainers and will then be ready to be assigned to a training class somewhere in the nation.''

OU officials are excited about the future possibilities for the College of Continuing Education.

``While we're talking about aviation today, next month we might be talking about trucking systems or rail systems or boating systems,'' Hall said. ``I think the important thing is that (the College of) Continuing Education is staying on the leading edge here of these things that are happening in our nation.''