DENVER (CBS4) – A CBS4 investigation has learned that Denver International Airport has suspended the security clearance for Heather Barry, Mayor Michael Hancock’s Director of Business Affairs and Concessionaire Relations for Aviation.
Barry is accused of sidestepping normal Transportation Security Administration screening procedures at DIA to board a flight.
“Any violation of security protocol is taken seriously,” said DIA spokesperson Jeff Green. “She knew what she did was wrong.”
The security breach occurred Friday, Feb. 3rd. Barry, a senior staff member at DIA, was flying out on personal business and was apparently late for her plane. But instead of passing through a TSA security checkpoint, Barry used one of two “Employee Access Portals,” which are designed solely for DIA employees to use to get into “sterile,” or secure areas of the airport like concourses.
The portals do not have magnetometers and other security measures and are only supposed to be used for employees conducting official airport business. They are not meant for use for personal business.
TSA officers stopped Barry when they noticed she was traveling with her daughter and they surmised she was not on official airport business.
According to Green, TSA agents immediately confiscated Barry’s security badge. The next Monday, following a hearing, DIA decided to suspend Barry’s security clearance for 6 months.
“It’s a pretty severe punishment, Green said.
In response to a CBS4 inquiry, Green said other airport employees have lost their jobs after having their security clearance pulled. But Green said DIA has moved Barry to work at other locations, away from DIA, until she can regain her security clearance and return to DIA.
The TSA could still levy civil fines against both Barry and DIA for the security breach.
Barry did not immediately return a call from CBS4 Tuesday afternoon, but DIA released a statement on her behalf late Tuesday afternoon.
“I made a big mistake and used an employee access door at the airport for non-business use. I’m working to ensure as little disruption to my team and to my work as possible,” the statement said. “The punishment I have received is to have my airport bade suspended for 6 months, which is in line with what others have received for similar violations. I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and I can assure you that it will never happen again.”
She previously served as the Director of Legislative Services and City Council Liaison and has been with the city of Denver since 2006.