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Schumer: Feds should study security holes at NYC airports

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday, July 24,

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday, July 24, 2016, called for the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive security review of all major airports in the New York City area. Credit: Charles Eckert

Baggage areas at LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports do not have security camera surveillance, and the federal government needs to get airport officials to agree on a unified system to combat terrorism and crime, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.

“We need camera surveillance at our airports,” said Schumer, (D-N.Y.), at a news conference in Manhattan. “The TSA [Transportation Security Administration] puts out recommendations for a unified system and despite recent upticks in terrorism, New York City airports still have major lapses in security and that’s a huge mistake.”

New York airports are “top terror targets” said Schumer, adding “there should be a secure comprehensive system for all city airports.” Kennedy Airport is the only airport that has a centralized camera surveillance system, the senator said.

Schumer’s claims were dismissed by officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who say that since the June terrorist bombing at Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk Airport, “high-visibility patrols with tactical weapons” have been initiated at Kennedy, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports. There has been an increase in police presence where officers “conduct random terminal and vehicular security checks,” according to an authority statement released Sunday.

Camera surveillance and other security measures at the airports are top notch, authority spokesman Scott Ladd said in the statement.

“We take a risk-based, intelligence-led, multi-layered approach to securing our airports that far exceeds DHS [Department of Homeland Security] requirements,” the statement said. “This includes the use of Port Authority Police patrols supplemented by contract security services, security technology and the hardening and protection of our physical locations.”

The statement also said the authority has “several thousand closed-circuit security cameras strategically placed . . . across all our facilities and is continuing to expand our coverage and use of security cameras and other technologies in existing areas and new projects.” Ladd refused to say whether cameras were located at baggage claim areas.

The problem with the current wide net of surveillance cameras by the airlines, the Port Authority, the TSA and retail stores is there is not a designated law enforcement agency watching the cameras, Schumer said.

“It’s baffling as to why the PA has not followed the TSA recommendations for a unified system,” said Schumer, who wants Homeland Security officials to meet with the Port Authority, the airlines and the TSA to devise a centralized system where law enforcement can view the cameras at a monitoring station.

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