Charlotte Douglas Airport Chief Jerry Orr on security breach: 'What, me worry?'

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Is Jerry Orr’s job as airport honcho so secure that he can blithely blow off a possible major security breach that has garnered national publicity? He sure seems to think so. Ever since Delvonte Tisdale, a North Meck sophomore, died on Nov. 15 after falling from the wheel well of a plane near Boston at the end of a flight that originated in Charlotte, Orr, the "aviation director" (head honcho) at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, has been perfecting his Alfred E. Newman impersonation, cultivating an almost blasé, “What, me worry?” pose about the tragedy.

As Steve Harrison reports in the Observer, Orr says he’s not planning any special review of security at the airport, despite a Massachusetts prosecutor who called the tragedy a major breach of security at Charlotte Douglas. In fact, Orr seems to be getting pretty pissy about the whole thing. When Harrison asked Orr whether he planned to look into the airport’s fencing, locks, and so forth, Orr said, "We'll take a look at that, but we take a look at that all the time." Orr went on to say that he didn’t even have much information about the tragedy, stating, for the record, that "All we know is what we have read in the paper."

If that’s not enough of a “don’t give a damn,” defensive attitude for you, then how about this? Orr told the daily paper that he hasn’t even spoken with anyone at US Airways about how Tisdale could have gotten into the jet’s wheel well. Oh, and City Manager Curt Walton? Guess. That’s right: "City Manager Curt Walton, who is Orr's boss, said he hadn't spoken with Orr about security at the city-owned airport."

This is just unbelievable. Maybe Orr is being Mr. Nonchalant because he assumes the Transportation Security  Administration is at fault, although TSA merely screens passengers and luggage, while the city is supposed to take care of all other security. Or maybe Orr doesn’t think that a local teenager dying because of poor security — never mind the possibility of a terrorist hiding out in a wheel well — are important issues. Or maybe Orr doesn’t like it that another agency is poking its nose into his fiefdom. And God only knows why Walton hasn’t lifted a finger. Whatever Orr’s and Walton’s reasons for inaction — and in Orr’s case, a casual, unconcerned attitude — it’s time for City Council to light a fire under this public servant’s butt, and the sooner the better.

Airport Chief Jerry Orr: "Oh, I guess I'll get around to looking into that lil ol' security breach at some point."
  • Airport Chief Jerry Orr: "Oh, I guess I'll get around to looking into that lil ol' security breach at some point."

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