Lawmaker calls for tougher security at airports

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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SAN JOSE, Calif.—A Bay Area congressman on Friday called for tougher security standards and a technology study after an incident two weeks ago in which a teenager managed to scale a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport and stow himself away in the wheel well of a Hawaii-bound airliner, according to an article from the San Jose Mercury News.

The lawmaker, Eric Swalwell, D-Hayward, said the problem was not the barrier but the lack of intrusion detection technology that allowed the teenager to climb the fence unobserved, the article noted.

Swalwell called for a pilot program to test radar and motion-detecting cameras and other intrusion detection technology that could automatically alert security personnel, the article said. In the article, Swalwell said the study could include the San Jose airport.

“San Jose has met the standard that TSA has set,” he was quoted as saying. “I don’t accept that those standards protect passengers.”

The report said Swalwell, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, took issue with the standards for the height of perimeter fences, which TSA requires to be six feet, saying that unless those standards are increased, airports will continue to be vulnerable to similar intrusions.

According to the article, Swalwell said the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center founded by the University of California, has offered its technological expertise.

In the article, Swalwell is quoted as saying the technology could function as a “force multiplier,” requiring no additional hiring. Swalwell, who spoke with reporters after touring the perimeter fence, said the airport is now adding cameras to that barrier, the report noted.

Swalwell told reporters that a new investigation of airport perimeter security is being launched by the Government Accountability Office, according to the report. The investigation is being conducted at the request of several congressmen.

The article said that John Pistole, TSA administrator, told the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee that the airport could be fined for the “egregious violation of the airport’s perimeter.” A few weeks before the teen was able to breach the fence, that federal agency wrapped up a three-month inspection that found the airport’s security in compliance with its requirements.