Security Screening Has Been Moved To Ellis Island

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York officials say new security plans for the Statue of Liberty could leave visitors vulnerable to terrorism when the island reopens on July Fourth.

Sen. Charles Schumer and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly are calling on the National Park Service to reverse its plans to move security screening to Ellis Island.

“The NYPD and the National Park Service have differences when it comes to ideas on how to protect visitors from a terrorist attack,” Kelly said. “I don’t think it’s wise to shift the screening from Manhattan to the potential target.”

As CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported, Schumer said the policy change puts visitors at risk.

“It means someone, God forbid, could bring an explosive device on the boat,” said Schumer. “Imagine, God forbid, a big bomb exploding on a boat going to the Statue of Liberty with hundreds of people on it.”

“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.”

Previously, passengers were screened before they boarded boats at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Noting that procedure was put in place just after 9/11, Kelly said terrorist groups “have an interest in targeting locations that represent America” and “the threat has not abated.”

The statue was closed after Superstorm Sandy flooded Liberty Island in October. Schumer praised the park service for its “quick cleanup and repair efforts” after the storm but called the new screening procedure a mistake that should be rethought.

“It is particularly important that the unique threats to this site are taken into consideration for every step of this journey,” Schumer said.

Park officials told CBS 2 that the new security measures are more cost effective, but that they remained committed to protecting visitors, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.

“We are committed to implementing a plan that does not compromise the safety of our visitors or the security of these landmarks.”

Commissioner Kelly and Senator Schumer said any additional costs could be covered with a small increase in the fee charged to visit the island. They also advocated scheduled ticketing to help reduce lines.

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