The congressman whose district includes JFK Airport wants a Department of Homeland Security investigation into a disturbing security breach on the tarmac — involving a suspect who still hasn’t been caught.
A strange man — described as a white male, 5’9″, 185 lbs with dark hair and gray clothing — was noticed on the tarmac in the early evening hours by a Lufthansa cargo worker. He reportedly asked the worker about the location of the A train subway line, then warned the worker not to say anything.
“We had a report from an employee of the incident on December 13. Employees saw a man who did not display proper identification and inquired as to the reason for his presence in the area,” the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement. “The man responded but showed no ID and left the area. PAPD responded, swept the area using canines etc and deemed the area safe. Presently, detectives are reviewing CCTV and interviewing potential witnesses.”
The man walked toward Terminal 8 and disappeared.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) told CNN today that he wants a DHS probe and recommendations on how to properly secure the airport.
“I don’t want people to panic or anything of that nature. But when you see that you’ve got a hole in your system, it’s got to be fixed. And what is disconcerting to me is not only that he got in and on to the tarmac, but he got out,” Meeks said.
“You know, to me that means either you knew something about the airport and how to get out, and also the fact that it took a period of time for law enforcement to get on the scene so that we could have made sure that we caught this guy. And now, I want to make sure there is an investigation that is continuing so we can find who this guy is and what he was doing on the tarmac, because we’re not sure.”
Meeks said when he talked with the Port Authority “to find out what was going on,” he learned “there are a number of cases in which people were caught who attempted to get on the tarmac.”
“We just need to fix and continue to review and revise wherever we find a weak link,” the congressman stressed. “And that’s what we have to continually do to keep up with whoever is trying to become — to invade the airport or try to get in through the visa program. So, we’ve got to keep fixing and moving and catching up. You can never be complacent.”
Meeks noted there was a disturbing “time lapse” of communications between the Port Authority police, the New York City Police Department and the TSA as the security breach unfolded.
“Also, what is really concerning to me is the perimeter, because we’re talking about protecting the perimeter. We have this perimeter intrusion defense system. This fence — they cost a lot of money. The first question I had is did the fence work or didn’t it work,” he said. “I found that that fence was not what was infiltrated. There’s other parts where the fence is not there. So, now, the question is — and there are areas where the tenants of the Port Authority are in charge of security. Does that need to be fixed? Do we need to make sure that that perimeter fence is around the entire airport? How can — are there enough patrols?”
Security officials, he emphasized, must recognize “that even with the successes that they have had, they can’t afford to have one failure.”