Security at Tourist Icons

Tourists and security at one of the nation’s most visible icons seems to be pretty relaxed. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the most famous landmarks in the country. And if terrorists were to pick a landmark, it could be the place.

Or, it could be the statue of Liberty. No matter, as vacationers travel the great expanse that is the United States, security is well established, -- though it may seem relaxed.

There have been a few credible threats over the years, but most of them have been pranks and isolated incidents. In 2008, a group of pro-Tibet protesters tried to climb up the Golden Gate, and in 2009, members of Greenpeace unfurled a banner atop Mount Rushmore.

At other icons in the United States, security is as serious as airport security. Among the most secure are the the White House, Washington Monument, Liberty Bell and Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The Government Accounting Office hit the nail on the head when officials released a report in 2009, saying that security at the nation’s monuments needed improvement. The U.S. Park Police said something similar a year earlier.

It is tourism season nationwide. Don’t be surprised that security has stepped up a bit from a year ago, and there could be single access points at some monuments. Gone are the days when a tourist could walk up to the Washington Monument from any direction.

More could probably be done to make the American icons safer, but there is a delicate balance to protecting the sites and the public’s right to have them be free and open.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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