Volume 22, Number 05 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 19 - 25, 2009
Downtown Express photo by Jared T. Miller
Police vehicles outside the Museum of Jewish Heritage last week.
Tight security at B.P.C.’s Holocaust museum
By Jared T. Miller
Security was tighter outside Battery Park City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage last Friday, a day after a shooting at the Holocaust Museum in the nation’s capital.
Wednesday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C resulted in the death of a security guard before the 88-year-old gunman was shot and critically injured. Though traffic to the Battery Park City museum last Thursday was relatively low, two police vehicles and several officers were present on museum grounds during the day. Police have continued the extra presence this week.
The museum also serves as a memorial to the Holocaust. Museum visitors and workers present in the area said they felt safe from a future attack, though most agreed that last week’s events seemed to be an isolated incident.
“Security has always been something that’s important of us since we opened,” Betsy Aldredge, museum spokesperson, said last week as she gestured towards the museum’s airport-style metal detectors and X-ray scanner. “We’re open for business, and more secure than ever.”
Aldredge added that the museum hosted a concert the previous night that drew a crowd of over 200 people, and that museum visitors have mainly been reacting positively to the enhanced security measures. Besides the additional vehicles, the N.Y.P.D. maintains a mobile counterterrorism unit that has been parked down the block from the museum since before the attacks in Washington, according to Aldredge. The increased police presence near the main entrance did, however, attract some attention.
“I hate the outdoor security, but I can understand,” said senior citizen Jason Cutler, a lawyer who works for the New York City Law Department’s Office of the Corporation Counsel, adding that he felt safe with the added police presence. “You want to make sure nobody gets hurt.”
“They’re certainly communicating that they were aware of what was going on,” said 58-year-old New Jersey resident Mike Boyle, about the museum’s decision to increase security. Boyle was chaperoning an 8th grade class trip to the museum Thursday, and said the students had discussed Wednesday’s incident but did not seem concerned. He said that the Hillsborough, N.J. school had considered the possibility of canceling the trip, but ultimately decided that Wednesday’s shooting was an isolated occurrence.
Others interviewed said they were not worried about the possibility of an attack.
“It’s a very friendly and nice neighborhood,” said Alona Kovarskaya, who works nearby on Water St. “There are a lot of tourists and parks people. I don’t think anyone should be concerned.”
But making museum visitors feel safe is a top priority for the museum, according to Aldredge, especially in light of recent events.
“We want the community to come support us,” Aldredge said, “Because we think what we do is more important now than ever.”