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Addabbo calls for increased security at JFK

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City Councilman Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), joined by members of the Police and Fire departments, called on Howard Beach, Ozone Park and South Ozone Park residents and civic leaders last week to open a dialogue with state and city officials to better protect their communities from a terrorist attack near JFK.

Addabbo organized the Jan. 7 event in response to a statement made by U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in which she called for heightened airport security measures following the attempted downing of an Israeli passenger jet taking off from an airport in Kenya in November. More than 50 residents and civic leaders attended the meeting at the Port Authority administration building.

“Based on that statement, I got to thinking how safe we are and how we can be better prepared,” Addabbo said. “The meeting opened the door for a continuing dialogue, and I said it was imperative that that dialogue go beyond that night.”

The councilman was also joined by representatives from Gateway National Park and the U.S. Coast Guard, who spoke about security at the airport’s surrounding waterways.

“This is a real issue for our community,” he said. “Given the unique geographic features of this district, our concerns are on many different fronts.”

Addabbo’s city council district covers Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach and the Rockaways. His constituents were greatly affected by the terrorist acts on Sept. 11 and the crash of Flight 587 seconds after it took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Addabbo said because JFK is situated in the center of a densely populated area and near borough waterways, it is a potential target for terrorists.

Speakers from the police and fire departments stressed the importance of observation as one way to help prevent terrorist acts. They also discussed other aspects of security at JFK, specifically passenger travel in and out of the airport, and they talked about how to protect the airport and its surrounding community from chemical warfare or hazardous material incidents, Addabbo said.

Linda Marmara, a member of the NYPD’s community affairs division, gave a presentation on how residents can protect themselves at the airport and during travel by learning observation skills and then reporting any suspicious activities.

“Don’t take luggage on a plane for anyone,” Marmara advised. “Some terrorists cultivate relationships with people years ahead of time and then ask them to carry something on a plane for them.”

Marmara told residents to look for and then report any and all suspicious activities in the airport parking lots. She also said people waiting for planes at JFK should never leave their bags unattended.

“Something might seem small or insignificant, but it may stop a terrorist act,” she said of an odd incident that a resident might notice and then report to police.

Marmara stressed to attendees that her department was targeting criminal behavior and not individuals. She said residents and civic leaders are key to her department’s success to spotting potential terrorists because they are familiar with their neighborhood and notice anything out of the ordinary.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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