Reporting Kathryn Brown
NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Transportation Security Administration began investigating a string of screening breaches at Newark Liberty Airport Wednesday.
Three breaches in just five days involved passengers slipping through without being fully screened, and other passengers are furious about the apparent lack of security.
“I’m surprised, they must have been taking a nap,” said Maryanne Ciavatta of Lawrenceville.
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“Oh Lord have mercy, I mean this is disgusting,” said passenger Gloria Dolan. “Somebody can have a gun. Somebody can have a bomb on them or anything.”
“I got scared because now I’m here, I’ve got to fly – I’m worried,” Woodbridge resident Diane Rogers said.
The latest breach was at Checkpoint 1 in Terminal B. Screening was halted for 18 minutes after a passenger slipped through security lines unchecked by TSA agents.
On Monday, screening came to a standstill when a passenger grabbed her bags off the conveyor belt, even though they had been flagged for extra screening.
Last Friday, a passenger pulled aside for a full-body scan simply walked out.
“They could be understaffed, there’s a lot of reasons, or they could not be well-enough trained,” said Pedro Yee of Clifton.
“That happens and I don’t know how they can control that. Maybe there’s a way,” said North Arlington resident Marie Hublitz.
“I feel they should not slip up, should be secure, because you want to make sure you get where you want to go,” said Hank Hublitz of North Arlington.
The latest incidents come just days after the head of Newark’s TSA operations stepped down amid several embarrassing security breaches and blistering criticism from her own team of managers.
The new chief ordered a full review of procedures. Aviation experts said any slip-up was alarming.
“One is too much. If this was something serious, there was explosives, do you know what kind of tragedy we can face?” said aviation security expert Issac Yeffet.
“They’re supposed to get checked before they go,” Dolan said. “It’s safety for everybody. Somebody can have a gun, somebody can have a bomb on them.”
While admitting it is disturbing, the TSA said that ”with millions of screens done daily there will be security-related incidents, such as those that recently occurred at Newark Airport, that are quickly contained and brought to a satisfactory resolution.”
The agency said none of the recent incidents involved passengers deliberately trying to skirt security. All were eventually tracked down, screened and allowed to board their flights.
The fact that they did get through security, however, highlights a communication breakdown that’s been an ongoing problem at Newark Liberty for months.
“People are on edge enough, especially in this area,” Barbara Thornberry, of Middletown, said. “You think about it as you’re walking, you keep your eyes all around, all the time.”
In a statement, the TSA said addressing those communication issues was a top priority.
For security, do you trust the TSA agents or your fellow citizens on your flight? Leave a comment below…