INDIANAPOLIS - A new security guard left his post unattended at Indianapolis International Airport during a fire alarm, prompting his security access to be suspended and forcing police to conduct a sudden security sweep of an entire airport concourse.
It started when a fire alarm started ringing near a restaurant, but when police responded on Saturday after 11 p.m., they found the passenger exit to Concourse A was entirely without the required guard.
Guards are required at all times that an airport is open in the spots where passengers walk out of the secured area for arrival and departure gates. They're intended to prevent people from walking into the secured gate areas without going through screening by the Transportation Security Administration.
As the fire alarm was ringing, airport police said they looked around and couldn't locate the guard who was assigned to the Concourse A exit. He was later located walking back to his post through a bypass that connects concourses A and B.
Officers reviewed security video and they wrote in their report that he had actually left his post twice, leaving the exit without a guard for at least four minutes.
The 51-year-old security guard was employed by Securitas, which has the contract to cover that guard position and others throughout the airport. He had only been on the job two months, having been issued his security badge on March 15, police said.
The ordeal prompted a Securitas supervisor to immediately relieve the guard of duty, suspending his security access card.
Police then started a full security sweep of the entire concourse that had been left unguarded. The five airport officers also swept the U.S. Customs area, but they reported finding no evidence that anyone had entered the area without being screened.
Police said that when they asked the security guard why he had left his post, he told them that he had no idea what to do when the fire alarm was going off.
The Indianapolis Airport issued a written statement, pointing out that it happened during an actual fire alarm, and highlighting that overlapping security helped to protect passengers.
The statement, from airport spokesman Carlo Bertolini read:
"This incident occurred during a time when an actual fire was in progress and its scope was not yet known to all personnel, creating short-term challenges to routine airport operations. However, the multi-layered approach to airport security, which includes video surveillance and law enforcement vigilance, functioned as designed, including during the brief time when a guard left the immediate area of the concourse exit during the confusion caused by the fire alarm."
Securitas, which is based in suburban Atlanta, did not respond to requests for comment or the current duty status of the guard.
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