Perimeter fence security concern at JFK Airport

March 10, 2011 5:10:24 PM PST
A Port Authority source concerned about security gave Eyewitness News the photographs showing the perimeter fence at JFK Airport in complete disrepair.

But it was only after getting an aerial view from NewsCopter 7 that the extent of damage became clear.

At least a quarter mile of the perimeter fence is down, leaving a gaping hole in security along a main JFK runway.

A memo from a Port Authority Police Officer warns "higher-ups" that "There is nothing to prevent a vessel or person" from entering the runway, and added that it is a ''severe security risk".

"This cannot stop anyone," said Isaac Yeffet, the former Director of Security for Israel's EI AI Airline.

Yeffet called the lack of basic perimeter security shameful.

"Show me one thing that you can hear stop the terrorists or the enemy from crossing the border between the water and the runway," Yeffet said.

The broken down fence is just the latest set-back in a $100 million project to ring the perimeters of all four Port Authority airports with surveillance cameras and motion sensors.

An Eyewitness News investigation a year ago revealed the Raytheon built system was way behind schedule and plagued by false alarms.

"It's been a very complex system," said Chris Ward, Port Authority Executive Director.

Just days ago, Eyewitness News pressed the head of the Port Authority on when the systems will be operational.

"It would be premature to say when exactly it will be done but on an incremental basis we've seen significant progress and we're pleased with how Raytheon and the team have put it together," Ward said.

But several sources familiar with the project say there's been little progress and Eyewitness News confirmed that the anti-terrorism monitoring system is still in the testing phase, monitoring equipment still in boxes, a command center is still not installed.

Meanwhile, regular police perimeter patrols were eliminated in anticipation of the new electronic fencing system which is now three years behind schedule.

"We spend $100 million, we cut the patrol, we have zero security and now someone from the inside is using the bell to warn the authorities," Yeffet said.

The quarter mile of broken down fence is the most visible sign yet of a flawed perimeter system that now has New York's senior senator calling on the Department of Transportation's Inspector General to investigate.

"There are holes in the fence, the systems are not operating, and we're dealing with safety here, God forbid a terrorist gets on a runway of an airport," Senator Charles Schumer said.

The head of the union representing the Port Authority Police says that not a single police patrol has been reinstated despite the perimeter system being inoperable.

The builder, Raytheon, declined to comment.

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