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More Airport Security for NYC Area

April 12, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two governors announced tougher security measures at the major airports around New York City on Friday, including requiring criminal background checks of shop workers and fingerprint scans for all airport employees.

The $100 million plan by New York Gov. George Pataki and New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey exceeds federal rules established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In addition to tighter security for workers, the plan includes installation of infrared cameras, motion detectors and other security devices around the airports.

The initiatives are designed ``to make air travel as secure and safe as it can possibly be,″ Pataki said at a news conference at Kennedy International Airport.

The fingerprinting and criminal background checks must be approved by the states’ legislatures. The measures would tighten security at Kennedy, La Guardia Airport and Newark International Airport and also be binding on 20 smaller commercial airports in New York and two in New Jersey.

Both governors said they expected some parts of the plan to be implemented by fall.

Congress in November passed laws that required background checks for security guards and people working on aircraft or handling baggage but not for other airport employees.

Kennedy, for example, has more than 1,000 cashiers, restaurant employees, vendors and others who work inside the airport and gates beyond security checkpoints. All can pass through security checkpoints and none are checked for a criminal past.

The plan also seeks fingerprint scanners to eliminate plastic passes, which could be transferred to another person.

Port Authority bonds and other revenue would pay for the improvements, aides to the two governors said.

The plan also provides counterterrorism training for state and local police who are to take over airport security checkpoints from the National Guard by the end of May.

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