Congressman Steve Israel and local officials stood outside the Ernie Pyle Reserve Center at Bayside‘s Fort Totten on Monday to call on the Department of Defense to address security concerns at Army Reserve Center facilities nationwide.
Last week, Israel sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter asking that he consider an increase in the amount of active security measures, including providing security guards at military Reserve facilities. The request follows the July 16 attack on two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which saw a lone gunman opening fire and killing four Marines and critically wounding a Navy sailor.
Security concerns at the Reserve Center were brought to Israel’s attention by a worker at the Fort Totten military facility.
Israel said that more must be done to ensure the safety of service members, whether they are stationed overseas or within the U.S.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the five service members killed in Chattanooga,” Israel said. “Unfortunately, this is a stark reminder of the devastation caused by gun violence in our country, and the security concerns surrounding our military facilities nationwide.”
Councilman Paul Vallone applauded the congressman for spearheading the initiative.
“The horrible tragedy at the Navy Reserve Center in Chattanooga has highlighted the need to address security concerns at reserve centers across the nation,” Vallone said. “We need to ensure that those who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, are in turn given the best protection we can provide.”
According to Mac Harris, director of Fort Totten Operation, budget cuts in 2009 forced Fort Totten to remove its armed guards from the facility and put in place a passive security system.
“The Army Reserve presence on Fort Totten adds to the surrounding community’s sense of well-being,” said Warren Schreiber, president of Bay Terrance Community Alliance. “In return, the Department of Defense must do everything possible to ensure the safety of troops on this base and at all Army Reserve locations. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is urged to provide Fort Totten’s Reserve facilities with adequate and immediate security.”