Newark Security Cameras Didn't Work Properly: Sources

TSA cameras weren't working properly during security breach

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Travelers ride an escalator past a flight board between levels of Terminal C in Newark Airport.

    The high tech camera recording system at Newark Airport didn't work.

    That's the reason sources are telling NBCNewYork.com why there was a two hour delay Sunday night at Newark Liberty International Airport before the decision was finally made to shut the terminal down, a delay that added to the chaos of canceled and missed flights, with thousands of people stranded in Terminal C.

    Blame Game Begins At Newark Airport Over Security Breach

    [NY] Blame Game Begins At Newark Airport Over Security Breach
    New reports security cameras weren't working. (Published Tuesday, Jan 5, 2010)

    "A lot of finger pointing is going on," said one source.

    The Transportation Security Administration(TSA) monitors the surveillance system that is owned and maintained by the Port Authority.

    Those cameras were rolling -- but not recording.

    Once the TSA realized it had no way to confirm the breach of security reported earlier by a traveler, it turned to Continental Airlines which operated an older video system.

    Continental's Julie King told NBCNewYork.com that "as soon as we became aware the TSA wanted the video, we provided it."

    A review of those recordings finally determined that there had indeed been a breach of security, and the decision was made to shut down the terminal.

    But the question now is who was responsible for the failure to record the exit lane in question.

    The TSA says the system belongs to the Port Authority. But a Port Authority source said they can't fix something unless they're told it's not working. And the Port Authority insists it wasn't told the primary surveillance system was not archiving what the cameras saw.

    It has since been fixed, most likely by a simple reboot of the system, according to that source.
     

    Meanwhile the TSA has already made security changes at the airport.

    "Two officers have been assigned to the exit lanes at Terminal C until further notice," wrote TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis in an email to NBCNewYork.com. That was as of Tuesday.

    On Monday, before the second agent was assigned to each of the exit lanes, Davis said the podium the security agent stood at was moved farther back in order to give security more time to see if someone was walking the wrong way.

    The exit lanes are right next to the security magnetometers as part of a virtual wall of security, and are used by arriving passengers who are leaving the gate area and eventually the airport itself.

    "I just think whoever missed that should pay a little more attention or maybe not work for them [TSA] anymore," said Kelli Stockdale of Glendale, Arizona while waiting for a flight home.

    The unidentified TSA agent who was working the exit on Sunday has been reassigned, according to Davis.

    As for other changes, "TSA can assure passengers that the circumstances surrounding the breach are under full review, including exit lane staffing and surveillance video access," Davis added.

    And the fact that airline security has gotten all the way to President Obama's desk seemed to reassure travelers.

    "If we didn't make security better, which they seem to be trying to do, we'd be in a lot of trouble. Nobody would be flying," said Ramona Robinson of Totowa, New Jersey.