Secret Service veteran named BWI security chief

New federal directors to provide oversight at nation's airports

March 14, 2002|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

A Secret Service agent with almost 30 years in federal law enforcement was named yesterday to the new post of federal security director at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Arnold Cole, who headed the Secret Service's San Francisco field office, was sworn in yesterday with seven other senior law enforcement professionals appointed to similar positions at other major airports.

Congress created the positions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to provide more stringent federal oversight of airport security. The directors will have day-to-day responsibility for the screening of passengers, baggage and cargo, as well as security of aircraft and the airport grounds. They will earn as much as $150,000 a year.

More than 9,500 people have applied for the federal posts. A security director will be appointed for each of the nation's 429 commercial airports. Those named yesterday include a retired Navy rear admiral, a Marine Corps general and a former Los Angeles police commissioner.

"No matter whether you're talking about the quality of a corporation or of a ... steakhouse, an operation is only as good as the manager on site, and it's great to see them setting this kind of criteria and pay scale for these directors," said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition.

The directors were sworn in by Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta during an afternoon ceremony at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Mineta said the department's goal was to find the highest caliber of candidate with the highest possible level of experience, integrity, honesty and reliability. "We have promised world-class security and world-class customer service - these men and women personify that promise," he said.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Cole began his career in 1975 as a special agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He has headed the Secret Service's Buffalo field office, and served as assistant special agent in charge of the agency's White House Division.

He is a 1974 graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Cole is expected to begin his new job in the next several weeks.

Others named yesterday include:

Anthony Zotto, a longtime Secret Service agent who is a member of the vice president's security detail, to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Willie Williams, Los Angeles police chief from 1992 to 1997, to Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

Isaac Richardson, a retired Navy rear admiral, to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Marcia Florian, a 27-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

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