The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to consolidate its security operations, handing responsibility to one designated officer. The move should strengthen overall security and accountability.

The new chief security officer will oversee security for the World Trade Center site and all of the Port Authority's airports, ports, bridges and tunnels and commuter PATH system.

The individual, to be chosen after a national search, also will have operational control of the authority's police department.

The decision to create the post comes after a review conducted by a firm co-founded by Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Security.
"This review was not conceived because of any crisis that emerged or a specific threat," Chertoff told a news conference. Instead, it was done "to take a calm look at what has worked and what has not."

The current system has created unnecessary risks, Chertoff said, adding: "What was surprising to me was the lack of any central security and accountability across the agency."

Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, said the security flaws included delays and complexity of communication among different officials in charge of security.

The airports, for example, have Transportation Security Administration workers screening passengers.

"You have several different groups doing security outside of the police and John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport have different camera systems," Nunziato said.

As a result, calls alerting the police to problems spotted by people monitoring cameras have to be funneled through several levels before reaching the police.