Safety precautions become more practical

Friday, March 8, 2002

Concerns about personal safety have taken on new dimensions since the attacks of Sept. 11. But as more time passes without a repeat of deadly terrorism in the United States -- even though such acts continue unabated in other hot spots around the globe, there is evidence of compromise on some strict security precautions.

You don't have to go very far to see how security measures have changed since September. While National Guard troops and city police still provide extra security at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, restrictions on parking near the terminal have been lifted.

And the parking barriers that lined both sides of Broadway and Fountain Street near the downtown Federal Building have been removed.

About half of the 25 parking spaces that were blocked off are now available again for customers of downtown visitors, worshippers at nearby Christ Episcopal Church and visitors to the Federal Building.

To mark the no-parking areas that still exist alongside the Federal Building on Broadway and Fountain, the city has put up permanent new signs, replacing the clutter of sawhorses and rope that previously kept vehicles and the city's street sweeper at bay.

Like federal buildings and airports across the country, Cape Girardeau's facilities endured strict precautions in the days immediately following Sept. 11. But local officials soon began to question the necessity for severe precautions, given the fact that our location and the facilities we have probably don't make for prime targets for terrorism.

The uniformed, gun-toting soldiers at the airport and the parking restrictions around the Federal Building are daily reminders to the rest of us that terrorism is a battlefront for all of us, and we can never let our guard down entirely.

On the other hand, Americans aren't used to highly restrictive security measures and question the protection provided by some precautions, including parking restrictions which don't prevent a terrorist from getting close to airports and government buildings.

Indeed, we quickly learned in September that the sure-fire safety of air travel could only be guaranteed by shutting down every non-military flight. But the disruption in travel routines was too much for most of us, and commercial flights resumed in about a week.

The negotiated compromises on airport and Federal Building security in Cape Girardeau are the result of a commonsense approach to a serious concern. As a result, terrorists have failed, once again, to affect our lives in ways that will permanently disrupt our lives.

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