It’s all about strong partnerships that collaborate and team-up to enhance overall security that pay big dividends, says Thomas Carter, the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey.
That partnership paid off on September 25 when a thief was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport after TSA alerted Port Authority Police of a passenger-on-passenger theft that took place at one of the checkpoints in Terminal C. The result was an arrest and return of a stolen wedding band.
A traveler, who was passing through a TSA security checkpoint, approached a TSA supervisory officer to report that a ring that the passenger had placed in a checkpoint bin was missing. The supervisor reviewed the CCTV video of the traveler’s checkpoint screening experience and spotted another passenger take the ring. TSA officials notified the Port Authority Police (PAPD) who responded to the checkpoint, reviewed the video to get a good look at the thief and headed in the direction that he took when he departed the checkpoint. A short time later, the police returned to the checkpoint with the ring after they tracked down the thief at his departure gate and arrested him as he was waiting to board his flight.
“This is a story with a happy ending,” Carter said. “The video was sharp and there was a clear image of what the thief looked like. The police understood the urgency in tracking down the man before he was able to fly off. This is just one example of how we partner with the PAPD. More often we work hand-in-hand when weapons such as firearms are detected by our TSA officers or to assist when there are unruly passengers in the terminal. When passengers or employees are observed by the TSA team to be in distress due to a medical issue, TSA also partners with PAPD to ensure that the individual is cared for and supported until emergency services arrive. PAPD is also called upon when suspicious items or individuals are observed. Sometimes the police are asked to respond to TSA’s checked baggage screening areas to assist with undeclared and improperly packaged firearms.
“Our TSA personnel are not law enforcement officers and we rely on our partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and its police department to help ensure a safe and secure environment in and around the airport,” Carter said. “We work with PAPD every day, from curb to gate to help ensure that travelers get to their destinations safely. On Sunday that meant working together to catch a thief and return a stolen wedding ring,” he said.