A new plan to screen Statue of Liberty visitors on Liberty Island poses a heightened security risk for terrorist attacks.
The Statue of Liberty has been closed since late October when Superstorm Sandy damaged much of Liberty Island. Sandy flooded the island with 8 feet of water, damaging boilers and electrical systems. The statue, which sits on higher ground, was not damaged. The Statue of Liberty will reopen on July 4.
Upon its reopening, security precautions will be altered. The National Park Service will shift screening from Manhattan to Liberty Island.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the National Park Service has conducted airport-style security checks in Battery Park or in Liberty Park before passengers board the ferry to the statue.
The Battery Conservancy wanted the pavilion removed in Battery Park because it was unattractive and congested the area with tourists. The Park Service attempted to find another location to conduct the screenings, but fell on empty hands and decided to move the screenings to Liberty Island.
Senator Charles Schumer and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly strongly oppose the plan and encourage the Park Service to reevaluate their decision.
“Leaving the ferry with hundreds of people on board heading towards a national symbol without screening, that’s like a sitting duck in New York Harbor,” Schumer said. “Could you imagine if airplane passengers were not screened before they boarded a plane and instead they were screened after the plane landed. That makes no sense, it would be unimaginable, but that’s what the parks service in effect is doing here.”
Police Commissioner Kelly stresses that terrorist threats have not been eliminated and "have an interest in targeting locations that represent America."
A spokesman from the National Park Service reassures that safety is the number one priority. The Park Service and NYPD continue to work on a plan that is best suited for the tourist.
Michael Litterst, a spokesman for the Park Service, said, “Safety has been and will continue to be our No. 1 priority, and we are committed to implementing a plan that does not compromise the safety of our visitors or the security of these landmarks.”