ASSEMBLY PANEL TO MEET WITH TOP N.J. HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL FOLLOWING TIMES SQUARE BOMBING ATTEMPT

Panel Will Also Consider Bill to Tighten Airport Security Following January Breach at Newark

(TRENTON) – Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Chairman Fred Scalera on Monday announced the panel on Thursday will meet with New Jersey’s homeland security director to discuss state readiness following the recent Times Square bombing attempt.

“Those in the homeland security business know we can never rest easy, but the recent Times Square bombing attempt hopefully serves as a reminder to everyone that we must always be prepared the best we can to protect the public safety,” said Scalera (D-Essex/Passaic/Bergen). “I hope the hearing sheds some light onto our preparedness and what, if any, improvements need to be made.”

Charles B. McKenna, the state director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, is expected to testify.

The hearing is slated for 2 p.m. Thursday, May 13 in Committee Room 12, State House Annex, Trenton.

It will be streamed live at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp.

The committee will also hear legislation (A-2288) Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer and Assemblyman Albert Coutinho sponsored to toughen penalties for airport security breaches.

Spencer and Coutinho (both D-Essex) introduced the bill (A-2288) 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,” Spencer said. “Clearly our law needs updating, Lovesick is fine, but it cannot involve jeopardizing the lives of thousands of people and violating the security regulations.”

“We need to send a stronger message that airport security rules meant to protect the public and keep airport travel orderly cannot be taken lightly,” Coutinho said. “We’ve been in a new day and age since 9/11 and our state laws must accurately reflect that reality.”

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