NJ Legislature Passes Bill To Strengthen Airport Security Rules

TRENTON – Legislation to toughen the penalty for an airport security breach was approved 40-0 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-606) was introduced after a 2010 incident at Newark Liberty International Airport involving a 28-year-old a Rutgers University graduate student who slipped under a security ribbon after a guard briefly left his post to give his girlfriend a goodbye kiss. The security breach was not immediately noticed, but it caused the terminal to be shut down for six hours after it was. The student was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and a $658 fine, but would have faced a much harsher penalty under the new bill.

The new law would establish a crime of entering into restricted airport property in violation of federal security requirements.

The bill sets forth two restricted areas on public airports.

The first area, a “sterile area,” is defined as any portion of an airport that provides passengers access to boarding aircraft and to which the access generally is controlled by the Transportation Security Administration, an aircraft operator or an air carrier, through the screening 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.

The bill provides that any person who trespasses in these areas in violation of federal security requirements is guilty of a fourth degree crime. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, or both.

The measure now goes to the governor.

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