Newark Airport Expands Video System after Security Breach

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has installed alarms on Newark Liberty International Airport surveillance cameras to alert agency personnel immediately if the equipment experiences a problem.

Agency officials anticipate approximately three dozen cameras at nine security checkpoints at Newark Liberty International Airport's three terminals, which will be synchronized to central monitoring areas for the coming weeks. Once connected, the alarms will notify Port Authority personnel of any malfunctions and action will be taken immediately to get the cameras working again.

The action follows the Jan. 3 breach at Terminal C, when a man illegally slipped under an exit lane rope to accompany his girlfriend to her gate after a TSA screener stepped away from his post.

Another security incident occurred at John F. Kennedy International Airport's Terminal 8 when an arriving American Airlines passenger improperly entered a marked, secure area for airline personnel. Though the door was clearly marked with a "Do Not Enter" sign and a warning that an alarm would sound, American Airlines has agreed to improve the signage, add security camera coverage and install locks on certain doors not needed for fire emergencies.

Additionally, the Port Authority initiated a comprehensive audit of security procedures at all its airports and requested tenants do the same. Authorities reviewed security plans and the participants included representatives of the Port Authority Police and operations staff, US Transportation Security Administration, US Customs and the federal Air Marshal Service.

Agency commissioners were briefed on these actions during a security committee meeting prior to the full board's monthly meeting.

"The safety and security of our customers and our facilities is the agency's top priority," said Anthony Coscia, Port Authority Chairman. "We have responded to recent security incidents at our airports, and we will ensure staff stays vigilant in consistently monitoring our security practices and those of our partners."

"We have learned from these incidents and made the appropriate improvements," said Christopher Ward, Port Authority Executive Director. "The Port Authority has invested billions of dollars in security preparedness since 9/11 and we will continue our commitments to training personnel, improving operations and further hardening our facilities in the years to come."

Port Authority officials also are planning drills to increase security preparedness at checkpoints and doors to restricted areas. Additionally, the agency is leading monthly security meetings with terminal operators, in addition to the ongoing daily communications on a wide array of airport safety matters.

Since 9/11, the Port Authority has taken numerous steps to improve security preparedness at agency facilities. Those actions include:

A 32-percent increase in Port Authority Police staffing agency-wide, including a 34-percent jump in department staffing at airports and a 114-percent increase for the PATH rail system.

PA's Office of Emergency Management is dedicated to security matters and serves as the agency's primary liaison with local, state and federal homeland security agencies. The office also manages security audits, provides vulnerability and risk assessments and oversees drills and training programs.

The agency has committed US$444 million for security operating costs in 2010 along with $326 million for critical capital projects to protect facilities and install surveillance and detection equipment. Since 2001, the Port Authority now has invested a total of $5.2 billion in security operations and capital improvements.

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