By Tom Momberg
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) joined several other city leaders Monday at Fort Totten to call on the Defense Department to upgrade security at the fort and other unarmed forts in two other boroughs.
Since the shooting attack at two U.S. military installations in Chattanooga, Tenn. July 16, the Defense Department has ordered a review of security measures at many of the country’s 1,100 Armed Forces Reserve locations.
But 583 of those locations, like Fort Totten have no armed security, according to Israel, who is on the Congressional Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
Israel is calling on the Defense Department to also consider upgrading to armed security at those locations during its review.
In addition to Fort Totten in northeast Queens, Fort Hamilton in south Brooklyn and Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island are other unarmed military reserves bases in the city, which Public Advocate Letitia James said are vulnerable to international and domestic terrorism.
“We really need to secure the safety of our reserve bases, so we must call on Congress to review security measures in place, but we must also call on Congress to review the major contributor to these kinds of attacks, and that is guns,” James said.
Israel made reference to not only the four Marines and one Naval sailor who were killed earlier this month at the Tennessee Armed Forces recruitment station and Army Reserves training center, but also to 2009 and 2014 shootings at Fort Hood in Texas and the 2013 massacre at the Washington Naval Yard.
“At one time the security was adequate, but what we have learned over the past several months and years is that times have changed,” Israel said.
About 250 full-time employees of the U.S. Coast Guard or Fire Department are on the base every day, in addition to up to 2,000 Army personnel, who use the site for training and drilling exercises at least twice a month.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb