by Fortgal Queen Mary 2 sails under Verrazano Bridge
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
NEW YORK - Security was beefed up here in New York Monday following the two Moscow subway suicide bombing attacks - with additional cops and national guardsmen patrolling transportation hubs and subways. But even as these precautions were being taken, the New York Daily News learned that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had yanked weekend security from the Verrazano Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
The cops that were stationed at the entrances to the bridge and tunnel have been replaced with high tech surveillance cameras. A great idea if the only thing you're using those bodies for is to help the driver of a car that has broken down or can't find the cash to get through a toll booth. But potentially disastrous if you're looking for suspected terrorists.
The added scrutiny at New York's bridges and tunnels began after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Ever since then, cops look at the drivers of every vehicle approaching the crossings suspiciously. They regularly stop vehicles to question the drivers - and sometimes even conduct searches.
It's not the kind of situation one wants to confront in the United States of America. We believe in the freedom to travel where we want without being harassed by law enforcement.
But it's a prudent step in the wake of September 11. One that most drivers recognize as a necessary convenience.
It's been well documented that the MTA is undergoing financial duress. It just announced proposed elimination of bus and subway lines which will lead to overcrowding and increased commute times for thousands of New Yorkers. And the costs of stationing cops to peruse every vehicle at these crossings is immense. But it is absolutely necessary nevertheless.
It is, of course, possible, that even with police officers stationed at the entrances of the Verrazano, a huge multi-level bridge that links Staten Island with Brooklyn, and the Queens Midtown Tunnel that something untoward could still occur. But their presence makes driving those routes just a little bit safer.
The MTA may be saving money here - but what is saved pales in comparison to the the costs - both financial and in human numbers if - God forbid - this decision opens the door to some kind of a terrorist attack. The cops should be returned to their posts. No later than this weekend.
Talk to Gary at 5 PM New York time weekdays on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network at www.joinchatnow.com. There is no charge.