Press Release Article


Date: Aug 08, 2002
Press Release Number: 83-2002

Downward Trend Continues From 2001, the 12th Straight Year of Reduced Crime At Port Authority’s Airports, Bridges, Tunnels and Terminals, Ports and PATH

Increased police staffing at airports and other facilities and targeting of crimes against property and people have resulted in a 40-percent decrease in crime at Port Authority facilities during the first four months of 2002, following a 19-percent decrease in crime at Port Authority facilities in 2001.

The figures were released today by Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour.

New York Governor George E. Pataki said, “Safety and security are top priorities of my administration. I congratulate the Port Authority Police on these impressive results. Law enforcement officials at all levels – federal, state, local and Port Authority police – are working together closely and effectively. Since September 11, they have redoubled their efforts to guard our citizens against terrorists and street criminals.”

New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, “The safety and security of our citizens are at the forefront of this administration’s efforts. New Jersey’s future and its quality of life depend on security against those who would prey on our citizens.

“Together, the Port Authority police, the New Jersey State Police, municipal police forces throughout the state and federal law enforcement officials are combining to provide the high levels of protection I demand.”

During the first four months of 2002, crime dropped across the board at all Port Authority facilities, including a 46-percent decrease at PATH stations and a 42-percent decrease at the three commercial airports. Major categories of crime include robbery, auto thefts and luggage thefts.

In 2001, crime decreased by 19 percent at all Port Authority facilities.

“When you consider these figures against the enormous volume of passengers, luggage, and vehicular traffic that come through our airports – about 82 million passengers, 123 million pieces of luggage and 14.4 million parked cars last year – it is clear that criminal activity at the airports is at a very low level and getting even lower,” said Port Authority Chairman Jack G. Sinagra.

Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “This impressive reduction in crime continues the trend that we have seen in the past few years. Since 1998, major crime at the three airports has dropped overall by an extraordinary 43 percent – decreasing 45 percent at LaGuardia, 47 percent at JFK and 38 percent at Newark International.’’

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, “In spite of the tremendous loss the Port Authority suffered on September 11, including 37 Port Authority Police officers and commanders and 38 civilians, police and civilians in law enforcement have reacted with extraordinary dedication and courage.

“Despite their heartbreak at the loss of colleagues and friends, they have worked long hours and shown great courage and consummate law enforcement skills as they provide the levels of security demanded by these difficult times. Their commitment to public service is greater than ever,” Mr. Seymour said.

Crime at the Port Authority’s airports also dropped across the board in 2001, with incidents in major categories declining 17 percent at LaGuardia, 16 percent at Newark International, and 23 percent at John F. Kennedy International.

Superintendent of Police/Director of Public Safety Charles D. DeRienzo said there are a number of reasons for this success, including aggressive enforcement targeting crimes against people and property; expanded use of K9 units and police task forces; special anti-drug units; and bicycle patrols.

“The use of highly trained undercover officers, targeting terminal areas and parking lots, led to significant reductions in luggage and auto theft,” Superintendent DeRienzo said. “Immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the presence of National Guard troops at the airports provided an additional, highly visible deterrent to crime.”

Also, subsequent to the September 11 attacks, the Airborne Services Unit has been providing aerial surveillance of all Port Authority facilities, DeRienzo said. DeRienzo also touted the use of digital video surveillance cameras at PATH stations as another tool used to deter criminals.

In 2001, the Port Authority Police specifically targeted grand larceny cases, including luggage thefts, purse snatchings, pickpockets and vehicle burglaries.

This aggressive enforcement resulted in a 24-percent reduction in these targeted crimes throughout Port Authority facilities.

While grand larcenies declined, so did petty larcenies. “Working with tenants and our crime prevention unit, we’ve also targeted shoplifting, luggage thefts and other types of petty theft, resulting in a decline of 27 percent in these larcenies at all facilities,” Mr. Seymour said.

Other facilities with notable crime reductions include the Port Authority Bus Terminal, where crime dropped by 17 percent in 2001, and at PATH stations, which saw a 7-percent decrease last year.

Some of the changes since September 11 include supplemental staffing at airports in compliance with new federal requirements for passenger screening, and steps to bolster the total number of police on the force.

Police recruit training is progressing at the most rapid pace in Port Authority history. By the end of 2002, more than 400 new police will have been added.

The 1,300-member Port Authority Police Department patrols the region’s major transportation facilities – including Kennedy International, Newark International and LaGuardia airports, the PATH system and the region’s ports, bus terminals, bridges and tunnels. Port Authority Police also provide aircraft rescue and firefighting at the airports. In addition, they are trained as certified first responders to medical emergencies.

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