Press Release Article


Date: Apr 12, 2002
Press Release Number: 41220022-2002

Legislation calls for fingerprints and background checks for more airport employees

(JFK AIRPORT, NY)-- Following through on their commitment to enhance the safety of regional airports, New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey and New York Governor George E. Pataki today announced that they will seek passage of legislation that calls for expanded background checks for more airport employees. In addition, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also announced additional airport security measures they plan to implement.

Joined by John W. Magaw, U.S. Under-Secretary of Transportation for Security, McGreevey and Pataki said that the legislation would require all current and prospective employees who have access to secure areas of airports to undergo fingerprinting and criminal history background checks.

This includes any employee who works beyond security check points, such as those who work at retail outlets, restaurants or as custodians. Currently, the federal government only requires employees who have access to cargo, baggage or the areas where aircraft are located to undergo background checks.

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

\"The legislation we are proposing will ensure that any person who is working in a \'sterile\' area at one of our airports does not have a criminal history,\" said Pataki. \"This is one common-sense way to protect the safety of the flying public.\"

The New Jersey legislation would apply to Newark, Mercer County and Atlantic City airports. At Newark international Airport, there are about 100 vendors and businesses located in the secure, or sterile, areas employing over 800 people who would be required to undergo background checks.

\"In enhancing airport security between check-in and departure gates, this proposed legislation reminds us that we must continue to look at the seemingly routine aspects of our lives with fresh eyes,\" said Kathryn Flicker, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of New Jersey\'s Office of Counter-Terrorism.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit individuals convicted of certain crimes from gaining employment at an airport, including violent crimes, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery and burglary, bias intimidation, bribery and corruption, perjury and false swearing, impersonation of a law enforcement officer and tampering with evidence or jurors.

The airport operator, who is authorized to receive criminal history record information from the State Police, would obtain two sets of fingerprints from prospective or current employees. The State Police and the FBI would then receive the fingerprints and fees and proceed with a full search.

McGreevey\'s Administration has worked collaboratively with New York State officials on the initiative to ensure that both states have concurrent legislation that can be implemented at all airports operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and at all commercial airports.

\"The safety of our airports, waterways and roadways will remain a top priority of my administration,\" McGreevey said. \"This type of regional collaboration and coordinated approach is essential to New Jersey\'s safety and security.\"

Upon enabling legislation passing in both New Jersey and New York, the Port Authority will implement the new standards within 90 days. Background checks on current employees would be required to be completed within 180 days after enactment.

The Port Authority also will implement additional measures that it plans to implement at PANYNJ airports including:

  • Advancing Perimeter Security Improvements: The Port Authority will deploy a combination of advanced security technologies-such as ground-based radar and state-of-the-art motion sensors-to bolster surveillance of airport perimeters that will improve detection of unauthorized intrusions.
  • Improving Access Control: The Port Authority will install new centralized access control systems at passenger terminal doors and airport security gates that will use biometric technology to scan fingerprints, retinas, irises and faces.
  • Making Greater Use of Closed Circuit TV: The Port Authority will use high resolution, low-light or infrared closed circuit television cameras to supplement the perimeter and access control systems that will help law enforcement personnel determine the nature of an intrusion or an alarm.
  • Supporting Airline Initiatives Using Biometrics: A number of airlines will begin to enroll passengers in biometrics based identification programs that 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. If approved by the federal Transportation Security Administration, this program, \"Fast Flow,\" is expected to be widely implemented by many airlines. The Port Authority will assist participating airlines, evaluate the results and explore the possibility of implementing this technology more broadly at PANYNJ airports.
  • Developing Port Authority Police Special Operations Capabilities: The Port Authority Police demonstrated their status as a world-class law enforcement organization with their heroic response to the September 11th attacks. The Port Authority will further develop its special operations capability to ensure that Port Authority officers have the training and tools they need to confront terrorism.

Governor McGreevey said these new measures, along with the bi-state legislation, would supplement important steps that have already been taken by the Port Authority such as deploying Army National Guard troops to oversee checkpoint screening at airports, re-validating credentials for access to secure areas for thousands of airport employees, and fingerprinting and criminal background checks for all airport workers issued credentials.

Governor McGreevey has made the safety and security of New Jersey a top priority in his administration. Recently, McGreevey announced the construction of state-of-the-art training facilities for New Jersey\'s law enforcement officers, improved network systems, three regional training centers and a new headquarters for the New Jersey State Police.

He also created the Office of Counter Terrorism, lead by Flicker, which is strengthening New Jersey\'s antiterrorism law enforcement efforts and serving as a liaison with federal and local law enforcement agencies to improve coordinated efforts among all levels of law enforcement.

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