New York - CBS: Man Jumps GWB While Guards Snooze
New York - On Monday the whistle was blown on two private security guards caught napping at their posts on the George Washington Bridge.
But as CBS 2 HD found out, that’s not the worst of it. The two GWB workers caught may asleep on the job may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey sources told CBS 2 HD there are many incidents involving these guards. One guard reportedly lost his job for playing canned laughter over the police radio frequency so the cops couldn’t talk to one another. In another instance a guard was reportedly asleep when a man walked by and jumped to his death of the bridge.
“It’s terrible just to think somebody could lose their life because someone is not paying attention. It is devastating,” whistleblower Joe Lepore said on Monday.
Lepore is the New York City bike tour guide who went public with pictures he took of a security guard snoozing Monday inside his guard post on the bridge, and another taking a nap earlier in August. Both guards, employees of a private security firm hired by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were immediately fired.
Lepore said he’s seen guards sleeping many times.
“One time I can almost understand, although it’s no excuse, but to see it happen a second time and third time, a fourth time, a fifth time, I thought something has to be done. Someone has to be aware that there’s people sleeping on the job when we need to be protected,” Lepore said.
The Port Authority tried to down play guards’ job, calling them “agents” whose primary task is to check the security clearance of bridge workers. But Port Authority police sources said they are also tasked with alerting them to suspicious activity on the bridge.
“Clearly if a security officer is sleeping then there’s a higher expectation that something would go unobserved,” Elite Investigations security expert Gary Weksler told CBS 2 HD.
Experts said bike and foot patrols on the bridge by police officers would improve safety.
“Maybe you just nod off at that one moment when somebody decides to sneak by some liquid nitrogen or some explosives and start to do damage,” Lepore told CBS 2 HD’s Hazel Sanchez. “And I explained it to one of the guards on the other side. I said look if this bridge blows up, we’re all going, including you.
“I feel bad for them and it’s nothing personal,” Lepore added. “I didn’t do this with a vendetta or any personal issue with anybody. It’s safety for all of us.”
Local residents said the workers deserved much more than a slap on the wrist.
“It serves them right. I mean they shouldn’t be working. They’re not working really. They’re sleeping on the job. It’s a crime what they were doing,” said Arnie Bauer of Fort Lee, N.J.
“That’s very scary, especially in the time that we’re living right now,” added Holly Herrera of Fort Lee.
Lepore said he couldn’t sit back and watch thousands of people’s lives be put at risk after he lost two friends and a cousin in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Port Authority said it has spent more than $4 billion on security since 9/11.
The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association said it believes additional police patrols are needed to properly secure the George Washington Bridge.
Lepore said he doubts more police would make a difference.
“It can’t be easy sitting in a little square box like that so I can understand. It’s early in the morning, you nod off. I can see that. It’s not an excuse for it,” Lepore said.
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