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police & fire

Port Authority: GWB guard caught smoking pot worked for same firm as sleepers

Photo Credit: ABOVE: PROPERTY OF CLIFFVIEW PILOT. No re-use without watermark and hotlink
Photo Credit: ABOVE: PROPERTY OF CLIFFVIEW PILOT. No re-use without watermark and hotlink

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A George Washington Bridge security guard arrested by Port Authority police for smoking pot on the job worked for the same firm that fired two guards who CLIFFVIEW PILOT found fast asleep in their booths.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must again question officials of FJC Security “to explain how this security lapse happened,” the authority’s Steve Coleman said this morning.

The same thing happened after CLIFFVIEW PILOT ’s investigative report on sleeping guards in August 2009 was picked up by area TV networks, after another FJC guard reportedly was caught sleeping when a man walked by and jumped to his death, and after yet played canned laughter so loud over the PAPD radio frequency that officers couldn’t communicate (PHOTO ABOVE: PROPERTY OF CLIFFVIEW PILOT. No re-use without watermark and hotlink) .

Last May, federal agents arrested a Newark Airport security guard from Nigeria who took the identity of a murder victim to remain in the U.S. more than two decades ago. READ MORE….

This may have been the final straw, though.

Sami Omar, the seized contraband

“[W]e are actively involved in a procurement process to find the best and most competitive security guard services for our facilities going forward,” Coleman noted.

Matt Horace, a spokesman for FJC, said the company suspended Sami Omar, 26, pending further investigation of what he characterized as “an isolated incident.”

He noted that Omar had passed four random drug tests since behind hired three years ago — the last time in July.

“FJC has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to illegal drug use within our work force,” Horace said. “Obviously this is an isolated situation, and this behavior does not represent the values of our employees.”

Omar, of North Bergen, was in his booth at the base of the GWB’s north tower yesterday afternoon when Port Authority Police Officer Kevin Hart — conducting daily post inspections – reported smelling pot after he opened the door.

Omar, who Hart said was spraying some type of aerosol freshener inside, denied getting high and suggested a skunk might have been nearby, Coleman said.

Hart arrested Omar after finding a partially smoked joint and a small bag of marijuana, he said.

“This type of conduct is intolerable,” Coleman said, “and we commend our Port Authority Police Officer for being vigilant and for detecting this unlawful behavior.

“This guard will no longer be allowed to work on Port Authority property, and we have asked our current security contractor, FJC Security, to immediately explain how this security lapse happened.”

According to the New York Post:

“A rep for FJC said Omar, who has been suspended pending an investigation, passed a drug test in 2009 when he was hired and three random screenings since. A woman at Omar’s house said she was unaware of his arrest, then hung up.”

More than three years ago, the Port Authority forced FJC to fire two George Washington Bridge guards caught napping on the job by CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM .

One was caught dozing twice in one day — the first time during rush hour and the second around 10:15 a.m. — when CLIFFVIEW PILOT photographed him.

Three weeks earlier, another guard was photographed nodded out in another guard booth for the third time.

Bridges and tunnels remain a prime target for terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11, authorities have said.

At one point, the Port Authority — which operates the bridge — had even restricted photography there. In 2005 and 2006, the agency installed cylindrical bomb shields on the section of the bridge’s suspension cables closest to the deck.

FJC was founded more than 23 years ago by retired NYPD Officer Frank Califano. Its clients have included the federal Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the federal General Services Administration, and the Battery Park City Authority.

It has billed itself as “the largest privately owned and locally operated security services provider in the Tri-State area.”

FJC has said its applicants must have a current state security guard license or training certificate (8 hours pre-assignment training and 16 hours on-the-job training); must pass a criminal background check; must have an original Social Security card, as well as a high school diploma and a valid driver’s license “for specified locations only.”

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or aliens legally authorized to work here, and must “demonstrate the ability to write, read and speak English.”

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