SAN FRANCISCO INT’L AIRPORT (CBS SF) – While the security problems at Mineta San Jose International Airport made worldwide headlines, an investigation by The Associated Press set to be released Sunday discovered San Francisco has had the most breaches in the past decade.
The AP crunched the numbers from the last decade and found perimeter breaches at the nation’s airports are hardly uncommon. SFO has the most breaches at 37.
The story was scheduled to be released Sunday night by the AP and its partners including KPIX 5 and CBSSF.com, but San Francisco Airport communications decided to send out a press release and scheduled a Thursday news conference about improvements in perimeter security.
Breaches at SFO ranged from the mundane (one case involved a “Driver inadvertently took a rental car through a gate to secure area”), to the vague “unspecified perimeter security breach,” which appeared eight times in the airport’s data.
KPIX 5’s Andria Borba had tried to get airport spokesman Doug Yakel to do an interview all week about the findings, but he hadn’t returned calls until Wednesday morning, and refused to do an interview.
At Mineta International Airport, there were 18 breaches in the past decade, the most famous being 15-year-old Yahye Abdi surviving a flight to Maui stowed away in a plane’s wheel well last year.
While Yahye made headlines, the bigger problem is cars crashing through fences. Nine crashes occurred in the past decade, all at the intersection of Central Expressway and De La Cruz Blvd.
“Here at San Jose, we meet all federal guidelines for security, for our overall security program,” San Jose Airport spokesperson Rosemary Barnes told KPIX 5.
But the federal guidelines clearly aren’t working. So Mineta, the fifth worst airport in the country for perimeter breaches, is making changes.
Federal regulations only require airport perimeter fences to stand six feet tall with a foot of barbed wire on top. At the southwest corner of the airport, at Airport and Coleman, the fence is getting raised an additional four feet with an additional foot of barbed wire on top
East Bay congressman Eric Swalwell said that’s not nearly enough. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee, and has sounded the airport security alarm for years.
“Until we have a system where security officials are alerted at the moment of the breach, we’re very vulnerable to people wandering around the airport grounds before they’re confronted,” Swalwell told KPIX 5.
Swalwell wants all airports to incorporate new perimeter technology.
“Infrared, enhanced video surveillance, motion detection,” Barnes said.
The technology isn’t cheap, and could range from $100,000 to install at a tiny municipal airport, to several million for an international facility like SFO. “Right now, we may be pennywise and pound foolish by not investing in this,” Swallwell said.