Sen. Charles E. Schumer is warning that a new National Park Service policy will make the Statue of Liberty vulnerable to terrorists.
The New York Democrat and New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly are concerned about moving visitor screening from Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan to Ellis and Liberty islands in the harbor itself, after passengers have already ridden ferries to the islands.
The Statue of Liberty is due to reopen to the public on the Fourth of July. The landmark sustained extensive damage during Superstorm Sandy last year.
"Current plans to move the screening facility from Battery Park to Ellis Island leaves the millions of visitors each year making the journey over to this national treasure more vulnerable to an attack," Schumer wrote in a letter to Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. "I ask that NPS reestablish security screening for visitors prior to boarding ferries over to the site."
The NYPD had objected to the modified procedure.
"The NYPD and the Park Service have differences over how to best protect visitors from a potential terrorist attack,” Kelly said. "I’ve written to [Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell] and asked that she have the Park Service reconsider its decision to eliminate screening at the Battery."
Schumer's letter is after the jump:
Dear Director Jarvis,
I write to urge the National Park Service (NPS) to reexamine its security screening policy for the Statue of Liberty. Current plans to move the screening facility from Battery Park to Ellis Island leaves the millions of visitors each year making the journey over to this national treasure more vulnerable to an attack. I ask that NPS reestablish security screening for visitors prior to boarding ferries over to the site.
I commend NPS for its diligent work around the region following Superstorm Sandy and its commitment to reopen the Monument July 4th. It is evident that NPS cares deeply about this national treasure and its visitors, however I strongly urge NPS to reexamine it’s security procedure and reestablish a pre-boarding screening at Battery Park. As one of our nation’s most visited tourist destinations, with an estimated four million visitors a year, it is particularly import that the unique threats to this site are taken into consideration for every step of this journey.
Again, I applaud NPS for its quick cleanup and repair efforts following the storm in an effort to reopen the monument, which will serve as both a symbol of resiliency for our region and the nation following this devastating event. I look forward to working with NPS to ensure that not only the monument is reopened for the fourth of July, but also that we are providing the highest level of security to our visitors every step of the way. Thank you for your attention to this important request.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator