Friday, June 04, 2004[posted by jaed at 1:29 PM]
Air marshalls ride along on commercial plane flights to stop hijackings. Unfortunately, if the hijacker's first move is to shoot the air marshall, they are of limited usefuless. Comes now an informative article on just how easy it is for hijackers to spot these "undercover" officers:
As they settled into first class on American Airlines Flight 1438 from Chicago to Miami, they were supposed to be the last line of defense against terrorists -- two highly trained U.S. air marshals who would sit unnoticed among the ordinary travelers but spring into action at the first sign of trouble.Apparently it's not just the clothes - since the marshalls are armed, they can't go through the ordinary security gate, and they generally go through the "exiting" side in full view of the public. Also, they get on the plane first, which also makes them easy to spot. But the clothes don't help, and the fancy clothes are actually policy:
Imagine their chagrin when a fellow passenger coming down the aisle suddenly boomed out, "Oh, I see we have air marshals on board!"
In an era when "dressing down" is the traveler's creed, air marshals must show up in jackets and ties, hair cut short, bodies buffed, shoes shined.
Jack Webb would be proud, but the marshals say they stand out like shampooed show dogs among the pound pups.
Professional demeanor, attire and attitude gain respect," said spokesman David M. Adams. "If a guy pulls out a gun and he's got a tattoo on his arm and (is wearing) shorts, I'm going to question whether he's a law-enforcement officer."We're doomed. Doomed, I tell you.
(via GeekPress and Dave Farber's Interesting People list.)