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While coaches worry about how to protect their quarterbacks on the field come Super Bowl Sunday, an Israeli-developed system for identifying potential security threats has been adopted at nearby Miami International Airport to help keep visitors to South Florida safe.
Rafi Ron, CEO of New Age Security Solutions in Rockville, Maryland, and former director of security at Ben-Gurion Airport and the Israel Airports Authority, developed Behavior Pattern Recognition as an answer to the problem of racial profiling.
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BPR outlines a long list of behavioral cues that should draw the attention of everyone working at the airport - for example, noticing whether a passenger seems overly stressed or uncomfortable.
"In many cases, civilian employees do not have the confidence to report most covertly suspicious behavior," Ron said. "We are arming them to report the behavior, report it correctly and to the right department."
New Age Solutions was contracted to "train the trainers" at Miami International Airport. In January 2006, the firm trained officers from the Miami-Dade County Police Department, who are stationed at the facility. As part of the preparations to host this weekend's Super Bowl XLI, Miami International Airport has become the first airport in the world to offer training in the technique to all civilian employees.
"We've been using Behavior Pattern Recognition for a while now, but now we've expanded it to training even the janitorial staff for the Super Bowl," said Greg Chin, spokesperson for Miami International Airport. "Nothing replaces the human element of being able to observe your surroundings."
Police officers in the US regularly train 1,600 aviation department employees. They also hold optional training every Tuesday and Thursday for the 30,000 employees in other departments who choose to partake.
"Unlike the very well-protected Ben-Gurion Airport, environments in airports across the United States are very different," Ron said. "Due to American legalities and cultural sensitivities, security officers cannot interview all passengers. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits questioning unless there is probably cause or reasonable suspicion."
Five airports have adopted the program - Boston, Indianapolis, Houston, San Francisco and Miami. But Miami is the first place civilian employees are being trained according to BPR.
The idea of screening items is not enough, Ron said, adding: "We are introducing the concept of looking for bad people, not just bad things.
Ron believes an Israeli security concept having such a large impact in the US draws a mixed reaction.
"On the one hand, Israel is a country that has developed successful models to mitigate security threats, and that comforts people," he said. "On the other hand, there is anxiety about Israeli solutions being absorbed into American society. We have far-reaching solutions and they have been accepted because they have been modified to suit American society."
BPR is expanding outside the realm of airports and is being adopted by police and security officers collegiate stadiums around the US.
New Age Solutions's success in the homeland security market comes amid a larger movement of Israeli security companies seeking to export to the US market. Last week's US-Israel Homeland Security Technologies Conference in Fairfax County, Virginia, saw 18 companies meet with US contractors and systems integrators.
"We don't have the sufficient experience to cover everything, and Israel has to be the first place to look for these," said Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, which together with the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute, organized the conference.
Avi Krawitz contributed to this report.