New York Governor George Pataki has unveiled a sweeping legislative package to tighten security at the three major airports in the metropolitan New York area.
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Congress passed legislation requiring baggage handlers and screeners, airport security guards and people who work on aircraft to undergo criminal background checks.
The new legislation proposed by Governor Pataki expands those checks to include all airport workers at Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark airports who have access to areas beyond security checkpoints, including workers in restaurants and shops. At Kennedy International Airport, for example, about 1,000 employees who work beyond the checkpoints are not covered by current regulations.
The measure also calls for fingerprinting scanners for airport employees to replace plastic identification badges.
Mr. Pataki introduced the package at Kennedy International Airport. "We will know who these employees are and the flying public can have confidence that they are people worthy of the trust of being in those secure areas," he said.
The airport security package also includes counter-terrorism training for local and state police and increased security around airports by use of high tech radar systems. It is estimated that the package will cost more than $100 million. The Port Authority, which operates the airports, will pay for the measures. The Port Authority is run by the states of New York and New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor James McGreevey supports the improvements as do a sampling of travelers at Kennedy Airport.
New York and New Jersey state legislatures are expected to approve the measure quickly.
Aviation experts say New York area airports will be in the vanguard of airport security when the measures take effect.