As early as 2000, there were genuine concerns held by
some in law enforcement agencies about aviation
security and associated criminal activity.
This included concerns regarding persons of interest, with links to
criminal organisations, working within airports and within private
sector companies contracted to provide security at capital city
airports. It would be extremely surprising if those concerns, or
references to them, were not reflected in the intelligence holdings of
the then Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence and the Australian
Criminal Intelligence Database (ACID) distributed over the secure
intranet, ALEIN (Australian Law Enforcement Intelligence Network) – now
run through the Australian Crime Commission.
That concern was certainly noted on occasion in unofficial discussion
between Customs, NCA, and state and federal police personnel.
Unfortunately, and even in spite of 9/11, it never seems to have
progressed up the management and command tree.
The reason for that is that aviation (and marine) concerns are, to a
very large degree, out of the general experience of most command
police. Moreover, there is always concern in raising scenarios which
must be judged on possibility/probability (ie likelihood). There is a
risk that the individual raising the more unusual idea might be viewed
as “odd” rather than constructive. And law enforcement management
structures continue to loathe individuality and independent thinking.
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Failure to obtain collective approval can leave people out in the cold
– and most are averse to that. The suggestion that aircraft operating
from Australian airports may be used to transport drugs and
other contraband seems often to have been acknowledged as a possibility
(which of course it is) – but paying attention to such putative
activity, especially if that meant throwing resources at it, was viewed
askance. This was back in 2000 mind you.
Apparently even 9/11 was not enough for the culture prevalent in law
enforcement agencies to change at the pace necessary to allow for
lateral thinking, or even the rigorous assessment and possible
investigation of “what-if” scenarios. Most commissioners would no doubt
cry poor, but that’s not a valid excuse.
Read more on the website here.