The New York Criminal Law Blog

Another Major Security Breach at Newark Airport

Another day, another major failure for the Transportation Security Administration? The most recent ineptitude comes courtesy of a distracted TSA agent who was giving directions instead of monitoring the exit, reports CBS New York.

An older British chap, 64-year-old Charan Jit Singh, went to the Newark airport to meet relatives who were arriving for a wedding. He walked past the distracted TSA agent, through an exit door, and past multiple "Do Not Enter" signs. He was either oblivious, illiterate, or just obdurate. Perhaps all three. He was only discovered because he stopped to ask someone at the gate about when a certain flight was arriving.

Because the area was only for ticketed departing passengers, security was alerted to the problem. They solved the problem by making sure Singh was ticketed as well; with a criminal trespass citation. They then shut the airport down for an hour and ran though the place with bomb-sniffing dogs. The terminal was evacuated, all of the passengers were rescreened, and four flights were delayed.

This incident comes barely more than two years after the last such incident at Newark Airport, where a lovesick Rutgers graduate student from China dipped under a security barrier to kiss his girlfriend goodbye. The result of that kiss was a six-hour delay, with 100 delayed flights, 27 cancelled flights, and thousands of furious jet-setters.

Criminal trespass is a pretty minor offense in New Jersey, committed by entering a building or a part of a building that he or she knows is off-limits. The offense is given a harsher punishment if the trespassor is warned by someone (a TSA agent, for example) or something (Do Not Enter signs) that the area is off-limits.

The Rutgers student ended up with a $500 fine and 100 hours of community service for his trespassing. Singh will probably face the same fate. As for Newark Security and TSA? They really need to step up their game.

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