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Teen Hawaii Stowaway Sneaked Into Secure Area Of SJ Airport Despite Hundreds Of Security Cameras

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(Photo Dylan Ashe, San Jose Via Wiki/Flickr Creative Commons License http://www.flickr.com/photos/ackook/1233393504/ )

(Photo Dylan Ashe, San Jose Via Wiki/Flickr Creative Commons License http://www.flickr.com/photos/ackook/1233393504/ )

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — San Jose’s Mineta Airport has hundreds of security cameras, but they were unable to deter a teenage boy that snuck onto a secure area hours before stowing away in the wheel well of a plane bound for Hawaii.

The airport’s cameras feed into a central operations center that runs 24-hours, and the feeds are recorded.

But, the people watching the feeds in real-time are not TSA agents, or police officers. They are city employees.

Airport Spokesperson Rosemary Barnes emphasized that the TSA develops and oversees the security program for the airport, and any staffing decisions follow federal guidelines.

But, in that control center, those civilian employees are distracted from watching surveillance feeds by doing their other jobs.

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“Not only are they monitoring cameras, they are responding to alarms; security alarms, fire alarms. They are accepting telephone calls. They have many duties as many of us here at the airport do,” Barnes said.

The airport does have a curfew in the overnight areas, when planes are not allowed to arrive or depart. But, there are always people on the ramp who would be expected to contribute to the overall security program.

“We are all responsible to be the eyes and ears of our overall program, and if you see something, you need to report it so action can be taken,” Barnes said.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said officials are looking into how security can be improved.

“I don’t think we want people climbing over the fence or however they get into the airfield illegally climbing on aircraft. That’s not a good thing,” said Reed.

City Councilman Pete Constant, a former San Jose police officer, also voiced his concern.

“It’s really shocking not only to see someone made it over the fence, but they made it across the tarmac and climbed up into a plane. For something like that to happen in this day and age is pretty shocking,” he said.

San Jose Aviation Director Kim Aguirre said while the security breach is serious, she doesn’t see it as a black eye on the airport.

The airport would not confirm what, if any changes had been made to security in the days since the incident.

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