07.24.16

SCHUMER: RECENT REPORT SHOWING LGA & NEWARK WITH SECURITY ‘BLIND SPOTS’—NO CAMERAS IN BAGGAGE CLAIM, PICK-UP/DROP-OFF, FOOD COURTS & MORE—DEMANDS IMMEDIATE ATTENTION; SENATOR CALLS ON DHS TO SWIFLTY INVESTIGATE NYC AIRPORTS; ONLY 360-DEGREE AIRPORT SECURITY WILL DO

Department Of Homeland Security (DHS) Makes Strong Security Recommendations For All Airports; Recommendations Should Be Followed In Cooperation With TSA To Ensure Safety Of Traveling Public; News Report Suggests Security ‘Blind Spots’ In At Least Two Area Airports; Could Be More 

Senator Urges Feds To Land At ALL NYC-Area Airports ASAP & Determine If Security Infrastructure Has Holes Evil-Doers, Terrorists Could Exploit And Then Fix Them ASAP; Unified Camera System Is Essential To Security

Schumer: Every Inch Of NYC Airports Should Be Secure; Unified Cameras Are Key

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct a comprehensive security review of all major New York-area airports and determine whether security camera blind spots or other serious vulnerabilities exist. A recent investigative report by NBC suggested shocking loopholes in surveillance occurring in at least two NYC-area airports. According to the report, the baggage pick up and drop off areas at LaGuardia Airport and Newark Airport do not contain surveillance cameras, leaving these areas at-risk in the event of a future terror attack, like the most recent attack in Turkey, which occurred in a similar ‘soft-target’ area. Schumer today said that when it comes to NYC-area airports, every inch of an airport matters and that only 360-degree airport security will do.  

“Ensuring robust security at NYC-area airports is public safety 101, even before the rise we have seen in terror threats and attacks,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “To hear multiple reports that showcase NYC-area airports have serious security issues, like camera blind spots, is a problem that must be fixed immediately. There is no time for delay. There is only time to fix it fast. That’s why I am urging the Department of Homeland Security to lead an immediate review of security measures at all NYC-area airports. We want DHS to review the most recent claims of blind spots and each airport’s overall security infrastructure. If DHS finds there are major holes, we must close them as soon as possible because only 360-degree airport security will do.”

Schumer says he is even more concerned that the recent report indicates that there is no unified security camera system at any of the New York area airports, and that Port Authority police are unable to access all of the security cameras at once in real-time in order to deal with potential issues. Schumer is urging DHS to work hand in glove with the Port Authority, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that any concerns are identified and fixed immediately, in order to ensure that our airports and travelers are as safe as possible.

Schumer explained that, while DHS recommends security measures for each airport, these recommendations do not need to be followed. Each airport has a unique Airport Security Plan (ASP), which is developed in conjunction with the TSA to fit that specific facility’s layout, size, number of entrances, number of employees and other unique factors. Therefore, security cameras at airports are not required by federal law. Instead, Schumer said, ownership and responsibility of installing and monitoring cameras has been tangled in a bureaucratic mess. Right now, the NY/NJ Port Authority owns some cameras at the airports, the TSA owns cameras and even the airlines and vendors own cameras. As a result, Schumer said, is that there is no unified security camera system.

According to the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, there are also no cameras in the front roadways of airports or in the common areas such as, the food courts.

Moreover, according to media reports, Newark’s lapse in security footage has been a concern in the past:

  • Most recently, this past June, a man called in a bomb threat at Newark Airport. Reports suggest the call may have been made from a payphone in the terminal, however, because there are no cameras in the area this cannot be confirmed.  
  • This past May, robbers tied up workers at Newark airport and stole $150,000 in cash, however, there were no surveillance cameras in the area to capture footage of the assailants.
  • And, in 2010, Newark Airport was shut down for six hours following a security breach when a man breached a major checkpoint to kiss his girlfriend. According to reports, the TSA discovered that surveillance cameras at the security checkpoint had not recorded the breach and therefore, officials had to rely on cameras operated by the airline.

Schumer said these recent concerns relate to the June terror attack at Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk airport, where terrorists killed 45 people and injured 230 others after coordinating a soft-target attack. The attack took place in the terminal entrance of the airport. Security cameras captured footage of one of the bombers. In March, terrorists bombed the departure area of Brussels Airport. The bombers were captured by CCTV footage pushing suitcases through the departure area.

Schumer said these tragic incidents highlight a real need for security cameras at all New York City airports and the need for the Department of Homeland Security to give each and every NYC-area airport a fresh look to determine where breaches might occur and if those areas have security blind spots that need to be addressed.  

 

A copy of Schumer’s letter to DHS is below:

 

Dear Secretary Johnson:

I write in regards to a troubling report that security camera surveillance is lacking at several of the New York City metropolitan area airports. I urge you to investigate this issue, and work with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure that any vulnerabilities are addressed and potential security camera “blind spots” are illuminated.

As you know, the New York City metropolitan area airports are among the busiest airports in the country, and New York City is one of the top potential terror targets. A recent report indicates that security cameras inside baggage areas and near doors and pick up and drop off areas at Newark and LaGuardia Airports are lacking. Specifically, the report indicates that there are security camera blind spots in several areas in the airports. The recent tragic terrorist attacks on airports in Istanbul and Brussels have demonstrated that all areas of an airport are potential targets for a terrorist attack; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must do all that it can to work with the PANYNJ, TSA, and other stakeholders to ensure that there is adequate video surveillance in all areas of the airport.

The report also indicates that there is no unified security camera system at any of the New York area airports, and that Port Authority police are unable to access all of the security cameras at once in real-time in order to deal with potential issues. Therefore, I urge DHS to conduct a comprehensive review of the security cameras at the New York area airports, determine where any blind spots or other vulnerabilities exist, and work with the Port Authority, TSA, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that any concerns identified are fixed in order to ensure that our airports and travelers are as safe as possible. I applaud the work your agency has already done in improving airport security but we must remain ever vigilant and ‎continue to build on the progress that has been made.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter; should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff. I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the safety of the New York area airports.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator



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