The move to arm police at Norway’s busiest airport is an effort to sharpen the response in the event of a terror attack at any number of heavily trafficked soft targets outside of airport security checkpoints.
Passengers at Oslo Airport, Gardemoen (OSL) might notice a striking change at the Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) main hub as soon as this weekend: Police patrolling the terminals were given permission by the Ministry of Justice to begin carrying weapons while on duty.
Police Chief Steven Hasseldal, who has in the past been critical of plans that involve officers carrying weapons in Norway, confirmed details of the new measure in comments to Verdens Gang (VG). “This initiative is necessary in order to avoid and limit potential terror attacks at Gardemoen,” he told the newspaper on Thursday.
Minister of Justice and Security Per-Willy Amundsen said that the permission to carry firearms was granted in response to a specific request from law enforcement. “The National Police Directorate has asked to be armed and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security has agreed to temporary armament at Oslo Airport,” Amudsen told reporters. “The armament will initially apply for three months.”
Although government officials appear to be taking pains to emphasize the limited and potentially temporary scope of the experiment with armed officers at the high-profile potential terrorist target, some aviation industry leaders are insisting that the measure is far too timid. Dag Falk-Petersen, whose firm Avinor manages airports across Norway, including OSL, said he was pleased with the move to arm officers at Norway’s busiest airport, but called on the government to expand the program.
“Gardemoen is obviously key, but we think the police should be armed at all of our largest airports,” Falk-Petersen said in a statement welcoming the decision to arm officers at OSL.