The port of Baltimore – the nation’s eighth-largest – suffers from significant security shortcomings, says the Baltimore Sun. They include gaps in fences, unattended gates, alarms and camera systems that don’t work or exist, and insufficient police patrols on land and sea. What appear to be a pair of video cameras guarding an important marine terminal are actually blocks of wood on poles, while the state-of-the-art fiber-optic alarm system on the perimeter fence regularly malfunctions and is usually turned off, port police officers say. Inside the 1,100-acre port, only a handful of police may be on duty on some shifts, and two boats that monitor the port’s 45 miles of shoreline are anchored for all but a few hours a day because of manpower shortages.
Officials acknowledge some security vulnerabilities and say they are working hard to overcome them by drawing on $15.6 million in state and federal grants to add video surveillance, upgraded lighting, and other security improvements. Some shipments entering the port – toxic chemicals and uranium compounds – require enhanced security. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out – land-side or water-side – how to get into this port,” said one of several port police officers who spoke to The Sun. The officers said their internal complaints about poor security had been ignored by higher-ranking officials.