Stun gun found on plane at Newark

July 11, 2011 3:31:51 PM PDT
An investigation is underway into how a stun gun got past security and onto a plane that landed at Newark Liberty International Airport.

It's the latest TSA security embarrassment. This time involving a JetBlue Flight out of Boston that landed Friday night in Newark. A Port Authority Police report shows that as the crew prepared the plane for another flight, "a stun gun was discovered" in a back seat pocket in which a female passenger in "seat 10B" had direct access.

We've learned she's been identified, but it's still not clear whether the stun gun was hers.

The stun gun was disguised to look like a cell phone. While illegal in New Jersey and New York, you can buy them for less than $50 dollars on the internet.

It's small, compact and it is deceptive. That's probably one reason it went undetected by TSA screeners, that and the sheer volume of carry-on baggage allowed by the airlines.

"You have just too damn many things for a screener to see all of the contraband items that could possibly go thru that x-ray system," aviation security expert Billie Vincent said.

The investigation, being led by the FBI's office in Boston, is focusing on how the stun gun got onto the plane, Bryan Travers, a spokesman for the FBI's Newark office, said.

"People get caught bringing stuff to the checkpoint all the time," he said.

A TSA spokesperson added that "the TSA employs multiple layers of security to minimize risk, deter future attacks, and protect the traveling public."

"The problem is we keep failing," Vincent said.

The former head of the Federal Air Marshals says prohibited items will continue to slip through screening as long as airlines refuse to further restrict the size and number of carry- ons.

"We're getting what we've asked for - delays and hassles because we make it difficult for these people to do their jobs," he said.

If we restrict the number of carry ons and the size, he says it would improve the system in many ways.

"Since it's fewer items and smaller items, the screener has a much higher probability of detecting contraband," Vincent said.