Monday, March 28, 2011
New York, NY - Police Radios Don't Work Inside New $743M JetBlue Terminal
The new $743 million JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport is a police radio "dead zone" that puts Port Authority cops in a Ground Zero-like communications blackout that has already led to a slew of police injuries, The Post has learned.
The embarrassing gaffe was discovered by PA honchos some six months before the cavernous, 26-gate terminal opened to the public in October 2008, when officials ran down a checklist of safety issues, an agency insider said.
"There was a moment of, 'Oops! The police radios aren't going to work,' " the source said.
One angry PAPD supervisor characterized the agency's blunder as an indefensible, especially since it set aside a whopping $663 million to pay for the terminal's construction, with JetBlue picking up the rest of the tab.
"It is absolutely mind-boggling that a terminal built after 9/11 would have a flaw like this that would prevent communication between police officers," he said.
Thirty-seven PAPD cops died on 9/11, along with 343 FDNY members and 23 NYPD cops, many because they did not hear critical radio communications that had ordered them to evacuate.
Since the JetBlue terminal opened, at least six cops have been injured when police reinforcements were late in arriving to help them in separate incidents, multiple sources insist.
Most of the injured cops were hurt battling with drunk or disorderly travelers in the terminal, which services some 15 million people annually, the source added.
To deal with the snafu, PAPD cops assigned to the terminal are given preprogrammed cellphones at the start of their shifts to call the JFK police command if an emergency crops up.
PA spokesman John Kelly acknowledged cops assigned there were now using "backup [telephone] communication," but maintained that an "interim system implemented in April 2010 provides partial coverage" for cops using their police radios -- a claim several police officials sharply disputed.
A permanent fix will cost an estimated $3 million and is many months away from completion, a source said, adding:
"There's no cheap fix or quick fix for this."