Advocacy groups criticize proposed security change at Albany airport
The New York Civil Liberties Union says a plan to make it a crime to refuse additional security screening at Albany International Airport won’t make air travel safer but will sow confusion and lead to unwarranted arrests.The group panned the proposal, which it believes would be the first of its kind in the country, in a statement released Monday as Albany County lawmakers were preparing to hear public comment on it Tuesday evening.
The NYCLU’s criticism is echoed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Commission on Peace and Justice and a coalition of local mental health professionals who say the law would be especially punitive to trauma survivors who sometimes experience anxiety about being touched and may need to leave security lines.
Among other things, the group argues, the law could make “urgent need of a restroom” punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail and otherwise make “criminally suspect a broad range of conduct that is entirely innocent.”
Introduced in April with bipartisan support, the proposal would make it a misdemeanor to refuse security screening once a traveler has entered a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint — currently only a violation of TSA civil regulations.
Albany County lawmakers will hear public comment on the proposed airport search law starting at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the Albany County Courthouse at 16 Eagle St.
“This law is ill-conceived and could criminalize a broad range of lawful activities,” Erika Lorshbough, legislative counsel for the NYCLU said in a statement. “If TSA agents or law enforcement have a good reason to suspect criminal activity, they already have the authority to stop and question a traveler.”
The group also said security protocols should be uniform nationally lest local variations confuse passengers and security staff.
Sheriff Craig Apple said he proposed the measure at the urging of Bart Johnson, head of TSA security operations at upstate airports, who hopes it will become a model for other airports. It is co-sponsored by Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso and Republican Minority Leader Frank Mauriello.
The law is intended to cover what Apple described as a soft spot in the current system that allows passengers to walk away without boarding their flights if security staff flags them for additional scrutiny.
I’d agree that the protocols should be the same nationwide.
I also don’t see what the problem is since anyone who leaves the line would still have to come back and go through screening. I’d be in trouble 1st because I have a peanut bladder and 2nd because I can’t stand for a long time due to a disability so I’d ask somebody to watch my stuff until my turn was coming up. I’ve done that for people at bus stations.