Agent in Newark Security Lapse Charged With "Breach of Rules"

TSA officer placed on administrative leave

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Passengers fill the terminal after a security breach shut down Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010.

    The security agent who allowed someone to walk through a security zone at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday night is now facing legal consequences, NBC New York has learned.
      
    A source in the Port Authority says a police officer from his agency wrote the Transportation Security Administration officer a ticket for what was termed a "breach of rules."
       
    It is not clear yet if the ticket carries a fine or a more serious penalty.

    The TSA has yet to identify the agent but says he has been placed on administrative leave.

    New Jersey Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez are calling for security upgrades in the wake of the breach.

    "This can be attributed to a management failure," Lautenberg said at a news conference Wednesday.

    While Lautenberg fell short of recommending the TSA fire the agent, he said, "We should not allow incompetent people to work here."

    Menendez agreed.

    "We need to set performance standards and when not met, there have to be consequences," he said.
     
    TSA said in a statement Wednesday that the circumstances surrounding the incident are under full review, and the agency apologized for any inconvenience the breach may have caused travelers. The agency said it has implemented new measures since the Sunday breach, including staff modification at the exit lanes in Terminal C, and sent a notice to all federal security directors instructing them to review and exercise their airport access event response plans.

    Meanwhile, the man who caused all the chaos left about 20 minutes after he walked the wrong way through a security checkpoint, the TSA said Monday.

    Someone picking up a passenger told an officer guarding the exit that he thought he saw a man enter through the doors Sunday, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said. TSA reviewed surveillance video before sweeping the airport, she said.

    The video confirmed the man had entered through the exit, and officials made passengers leave the terminal and be rescreened.

    The video also showed the man leaving the terminal through another exit about 20 minutes later, Davis said, although it was unclear when authorities learned the man had left.

    "We have to operate under the assumption that he's still in the sterile area," Davis said. "We have to ensure that he hadn't introduced anything to the sterile area."

    Authorities found nothing suspicious when they searched the terminal after evacuating passengers. They are still trying to determine the man's identity.

    Terminal C, where the security breach occurred, is used mostly by Continental Airlines.