Security change at Liberty, Ellis islands criticized

Posted at 10:51 PM, May 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-27 22:51:00-04

By Alcione Gonzalez

(CNN) — Recent security changes at New York City’s Ellis Island and Liberty Island were under scrutiny Monday as summer started and tourists looked forward to the reopening of two of New York’s historic landmarks.

Sen. Chuck Schumer and New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly have asked the National Park Service to re-evaluate a recent change in its security procedures that will allow visitors to board ferries headed to the islands and go through a security screening after they arrive.

“The NYPD and the National Park Service have differences when it comes to ideas on how to protect visitors from a terrorist attack,” Kelly told reporters Monday. “Al Qaeda and its surrogates, those who share its jihadist goals, have continually called for attacks against America, in America.”

Kelly wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking her to revisit the decision and alerted Schumer to the potential security risks.

“It’s sort of ridiculous. It’s sort of saying we are going to screen people at airports after they get on the plane,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said. “They’ve made a serious mistake here, and we are asking them to rethink it, to change it and simply go back to the old procedure.”

A park service representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since 9/11, visitors have been screened at a lower Manhattan security checkpoint before boarding the daily ferries to the islands. Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island, home to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, sustained extensive damage in Superstorm Sandy and have been closed since the storm hit in October.

Liberty Island is scheduled to reopen to the public on July 4, but Ellis Island will remain closed as it undergoes extensive repairs.