Press Release Article


GOVERNOR CALLS FOR EXPANDED BACKGROUND CHECKS AT NY AIRPORTS

Date: Apr 12, 2002
Press Release Number: 4122002-2002

Unveils Plan to Bolster Security at JFK, LaGuardia; Welcomes New Fed Security Director

Governor George E. Pataki today unveiled a comprehensive plan to dramatically improve security at New York airports, including new legislation to expand criminal background checks for employees at airports and new security measures at JFK and LaGuardia. In addition, the Governor welcomed the new Federal Security Director at JFK, who will help ensure the successful implementation of security measures put in place by the federal government last year.

\"I am committed to making New York\'s airports as safe as possible so that every passenger is as safe as possible,\" Governor Pataki said. \"My legislation will help to ensure that any person who is working in a sensitive area at one of our airports does not have a criminal history. I urge the federal government to adopt this common sense approach nationally to help further protect the flying public.

\"While JFK and LaGuardia now meet or exceed all public safety standards, we can and must continue to look for new ways to enhance airport security by taking advantage of new technology and ideas. This comprehensive plan will set the standard for airport security around the nation.\"

The Governor\'s legislation, which is supported by New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, expands on current federal law, which limits criminal background checks for airport employees to those workers with access to the aeronautical areas of the airport, security screeners and accepters of checked baggage.

Governor McGreevey said, \"This legislation is an important step toward the enhanced security of our regional airports. We will continue to work in a bi-state and cooperative fashion in order to protect the safety of our travelers and our citizens.\"

The legislation mandates fingerprint based criminal history background checks for any worker who is assigned to any \"sterile\" area at Kennedy or LaGuardia airports, and other airports in both states as a condition of employment. A \"sterile\" area is any location beyond the security check point on the passenger concourse.

If passed in Albany, the Governor\'s legislation would be binding at 20 commercial airports statewide, including: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Ogdensburg, Stewart, Westchester, and Islip/MacArthur.

However, in order to be effective at JFK and LaGuardia, which are run by the bi-state Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Governor\'s legislation must be adopted by both State legislatures and signed into law by both Governors. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports are prepared to immediately implement such fingerprint based criminal records checks when the Port Authority receives the statutory go-ahead.

The new Federal Security Director, William R. Hall, the former Chief of Surface Transportation for the Port Authority Police Department, will report to the Under-Secretary of Transportation for Security or his designate. He will provide day-to-day operational leadership for the Federal security responsibilities at JFK. He will be the ranking TSA authority responsible for the leadership and coordination of TSA security activities within the airport. These responsibilities and accompanying authority include the tactical planning, execution and operating management for coordinated security services, and other duties as prescribed by the Under-Secretary.

John W. Magaw, Under-Secretary of Transportation for Security, said, \"As our country\'s military forces fight the war on terrorism overseas, Chief Hall has the responsibility of working with our airline and airport partners, and demanding the best from his employees, to ensure they uphold TSA\'s commitment to first class security and first class customer service, as we all fight the war on terrorism at home. I congratulate Chief Hall and welcome him to the TSA team.\"

James Kallstrom, Director, NYS Office of Public Security, said, \"With Governor Pataki\'s leadership, New York State looks forward to a continued effective relationship with the Transportation Security Administration, and the new Federal Security Directors. We commend the Port Authority and airport operators throughout the State for their hard work to insure that our airports are among the safest and most secure in the world.\"

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour, said, \"The Port Authority stands ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure the highest level of airport security. Our top priority is maintaining safety and security on behalf of the hundreds of millions of travelers who rely each year on our airports, bridges and tunnels, bus terminals and rail systems.\"

NYSTAR Executive Director Russell W. Bessette, M.D., said, \"I applaud Governor Pataki for setting in motion an innovative plan to harness and develop the technology that will lead to greater security and greater peace of mind for citizens of New York State; and in addition, the Governor\'s action will foster new jobs and new companies in New York State.\"

Even though today New York City\'s airports meet or exceed all federal requirements, there are other things that can be done to strengthen security, especially in the area of new technology. At the Governor\'s direction, the Port Authority will immediately execute the following:

  • Advance Perimeter Security Improvements -- The Port Authority will deploy a combination of advanced security technologies to bolster surveillance of airport perimeters, to improve detection of unauthorized intrusions. This package of technologies will include the innovative use of ground-based radar and state-of-the-art motion sensors that will activate alarms at central security monitoring stations, indicating the specific location of a potential intrusion.
  • Improve Access Control -- The Port Authority will also install new centralized access control systems at passenger terminal doors and airport security gates leading to aeronautical areas and other secure locations. These systems will employ cutting-edge biometric technology, such as fingerprint, retinal, iris or facial scanning.
  • Undersecretary Magaw will be establishing pilot programs in at least 20 airports to test and evaluate new and emerging technology for providing access control and other security protections for closed or secure areas of the airports. The Port Authority has volunteered John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark airports to be pioneers in this arena. The Port Authority will work in close coordination with the Transportation Security Administration in efforts to define nationwide biometric standards.
  • Make Greater Use of Closed Circuit TV -- The Port Authority will supplement both perimeter and access control systems with a new array of high resolution, low-light and/or infrared closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to determine the nature of any alarm or intrusion and to guide response by law enforcement personnel. The CCTV deployment will be extended to other sensitive locations in and around the airports and will be fully integrated with planned security operations control centers at each of the airports.
  • Support Air Carrier Initiatives Using Biometrics - A number of airlines will begin to enroll their passengers in biometrics-based identification programs. \"Fast Flow\" programs will serve to focus security resources more efficiently by speeding the process and enhancing customer service for known, trusted, travelers while at the same time cutting down on identity fraud and illicit use of travel documents. No compromise in security will be tolerated. The systems would also have the capabili

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