Airport screener misses butcher knife in purse
Monday, February 14, 2005 Posted: 11:35 AM EST (1635 GMT)

NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) -- A security screener at Newark Liberty International Airport failed to spot a butcher knife in a passenger's pocketbook and was removed from the post for retraining, officials said.

Katrina Bell, 27, had cleared security and was waiting with her sister to board a flight on Saturday morning when she discovered she was carrying a knife.

Bell had put the knife in her bag "just in case" before going on a blind date earlier that week, her sister and travel companion, Tikisha Bell Gowens, 30, said in The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark.

"She said to me, 'Oh my God, I have this butcher knife in my pocketbook,"' Bell Gowens said. "My first thought was, 'They're going to think we're terrorists."'

The North Carolina women immediately told airport personnel, who summoned police and officials of the Transportation Security Administration, which employs the screeners.

The women were not charged.

The screener was removed from the checkpoint and will undergo remedial training, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said.

"The knife was in a cluttered handbag," Davis said. "It was characterized to me as difficult to detect."

The incident was only the latest embarrassment for screeners at one of the airports from which some of the September 11, 2001, hijackers took off.

In December, baggage screeners at the airport lost a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise. Despite an hours-long search, the fake bomb made it onto an Amsterdam-bound flight.

Two security supervisors were fired after the incident.

On Saturday, officials asked Bell to go through security again with the knife in her pocketbook. It was discovered during the second check.

"Suppose someone else had this knife and their motive was to hijack the plane?" Bell Gowens said. "Come on, now. We had a butcher knife. How do you miss that? How many years do you need to get this right?"