Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Time To Eliminate Law Enforcement Responsibilities From the Port Authority

That's the video taken from one of the BASE jumpers who jumped from the top of 1WTC last September.

That incident, plus the more recent incident involving a teen climbing all the way to the top of the spire without anyone noticing anything wrong, shows how porous the WTC site is and how ineffective Port Authority security truly is.

I get how security can't be 100% perfect, but the Port Authority has made a show of how much security is there. It's a facade. They spent money on cameras, but didn't bother to install them.

They will repeatedly stop people attempting to enter the PATH but it's a superficial show and is hardly a deterrent when the search takes place at the base of the escalator bank.

Their police force is among the most highly compensated in the NYC metro area, and yet the site has repeatedly been entered by persons who don't belong. It is past time to turn over security at the WTC, and other Port Authority sites to the local law enforcement agencies, particularly the NYPD in NYC. There's nothing that the PAPD can do that the NYPD can't do - and the NYPD can do it better, and for far lower cost to taxpayers/riders/toll payers.

Eliminate the PAPD altogether. Consolidate law enforcement responsibilities in the local agencies and grant the NYPD and the New Jersey local law enforcement responsibilities and jurisdiction to handle the bistate crossings.

The PAPD was established because there are bistate bridges and tunnels, and this gets around the jurisdiction issues, but there are far too many problems with the PAPD that can't be solved with the existing system. The politicization of the Port Authority is a big reason. That politicization includes the Gov. Christie Bridgegate (GWB vendetta against Fort Lee Mayor for not endorsing him in a surefire reelection), and Gov. Cuomo and Christie's manipulation of a recent toll hike to make the governors look good even though they were approving massive toll and fare hikes.

Dismantling the bistate agency isn't going to happen anytime soon, not when both governors continue using the agency for their political purposes, but there has to be more accountability with the agency. Security problems at the WTC are only the latest issue. Cost controls on WTC reconstruction have long shown that the agency isn't interested in fiscal responsibility when they can get tolling and fares to cover any overruns. The agency is planning a vast capital program over the next decade, including rebuilding two bridges (Outerbridge and Bayonne) and building two new spans (new Goethals), plus major rehabilitation of the Lincoln Tunnel approach and the GWB. PATH is also getting expanded to Newark Liberty airport, but it doesn't appear that cost containment is in the picture, especially with the WTC PATH transit hub. And because there isn't sufficient cost control, money that could go towards other major capital projects is sucked up by the projects already in the pipeline.

Removing or at least seriously reducing the law enforcement responsibility will free up more money to do what the agency was intended to do in the first place - build transit infrastructure in the NYC metro area. It would help refocus the agency on its core mission.

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