TRENTON – Legislation to toughen penalties for airport security breaches was advanced Monday by a Senate panel.
The bill (A-2288) was introduced after the Jan. 3 incident at Newark Liberty International Airport involving Haisong Jiang, 28, a Rutgers University graduate student who lives in Piscataway.
Jiang was arrested after authorities identified him as the man who slipped under a security ribbon after a guard briefly left his post. Jiang entered an area where passengers already had been screened. When someone noticed what happened, the terminal was shut down for six hours.
“Mr. Jiang was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and a $658 fine, but his goodbye kiss cost taxpayers and commuters thousands of dollars,” said Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex), a sponsor of the bill. “Clearly our law needs updating, Lovesick is fine, but it cannot involve jeopardizing the lives of thousands of people and violating the security regulations.”
The bill was approved 78-0 by the Assembly in May and released Monday by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. It would:
· Establish the crime of entering into restricted airport property in violation of federal security requirements.
· Set forth two restricted areas on public airports.
· The first area, a “sterile passenger holding area” is defined as any portion of a public airport designated by appropriate signs as an area into which access is conditioned upon the prior inspection of persons and property.
· The second area, an “operational area” is defined as any portion of a public airport, from which access by the public is prohibited by fences or appropriate signs.
Under the bill, any person who knowingly trespasses in these areas would be guilty of a fourth degree crime punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to 18 months or both.
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