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TSA brings body scanners to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

MESA, Ariz. - Body scanners have arrived at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

Advanced Imaging Technology is now being used to screen passengers there. The TSA's Nico Melendez said the scanners will help to protect passengers from the latest threats.

"The latest threats are explosives which metal detectors have traditionally not been able to find," Melendez said. "By introducing these to Mesa Gateway, it's a demonstration that airports, no matter how big or how small, are important to the entire transportation system."

The "backscatter" technology has been in use at the airport for a few days now. It uses x-ray beams to create a reflection of your body, then displays it on a monitor. A TSA screener then looks at the image to see if there are any signs of a weapon.

Melendez said privacy concerns with the technology have been addressed.

"We have a separate resolution room," Melendez said. "Our security officer who is viewing the image has no interaction with the passenger who is being screened. Our technology doesn't retain the image, and can't print or transmit it. We think we've taken all of the steps necessary."

If something turns up questionable on the image, the passenger goes through additional screening.

The technology is already in use at more than 190 airports nationwide, including Sky Harbor.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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