Senate Minority Leader Schumer has demanded to know why communication break downs and security lapses continue at JFK International Airport despite federal recommendations he helped spur to tighten security being delivered months ago.
By Forum Staff
Following a recent security breach at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer last week demanded answers from the Transportation Security Administration as to why communication break downs and security lapses continue despite federal recommendations he helped spur to tighten security being delivered months ago.
In August, following the shots-fired scare at JFK, Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate the airport’s security procedures and determine whether security flaws exist. While recommendations were put forth late last year, Schumer noted that it seems issues with communication between law enforcement agencies, real time video feeds, and adequate worker training continue to plague JFK.
On Feb. 20, 11 people walked through an unattended TSA checkpoint at JFK; three of the individuals set off the metal detector. According to reports, Schumer noted, it took the TSA two hours to notify Port Authority police of the breach. The three passengers who set off the detectors were located in San Francisco upon landing. The remaining eight passengers were screened by a canine prior to boarding. Schumer said that the lack of communication shown in this recent breach at JFK demonstrates that there is a great need for changes in how the agencies at the airport work together.
“It is simply inexcusable that there have been repeated breakdowns in communication and security at JFK despite major federal recommendations to improve security being delivered months ago. My question for TSA is simple: Why does this keep happening and what are you doing about it?” Schumer said. “If previous recommendations to improve communication and security had been effectively implemented, it’s very possible this breach could have been rectified more quickly or even avoided. The public deserves answers and TSA has a lot of explaining to do. We all want to know: Have these federal recommendations been implemented? In the meantime, I am urging the TSA to thoroughly review the most recent security breach so that corrective action is taken immediately and the traveling public is better protected.”
One such recommendation of the Schumer-backed DHS investigation included the creation of a unified command center at the airport to oversee operations. Schumer noted that had such a command center been effectively implemented at the time of this most recent breach, it’s possible that the incident could have been identified more quickly and all law enforcement agencies could have been notified immediately.
“In the wake of 9-11, we learned painful lessons about the dangers of imperfectly coordinated parallel first-responder operations and lack of critical information sharing between various agencies and levels of government. This last August at JFK, we were reminded again we must be ever-vigilant to make sure operations at critical spaces like our airports conform to the highest levels of coordination to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and to maximally protect the flying public from those who could do them harm,” Schumer wrote in his missive to Huban Gowadia, acting deputy administrator of the TSA. “Yet despite these repeated lessons and the recommendations from the investigation at the end of last year, this latest JFK incident demonstrates once again that communication between law enforcement agencies at the airport is disjointed, inadequate, and hinders response times during emergencies.”