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Federal report recommends several security upgrades at Port of Milwaukee

Port of Milwaukee
Posted at 3:37 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 19:56:28-04

MILWAUKEE — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) is recommending several security upgrades to the Port of Milwaukee, one of the largest shipping and access ports in the Midwest.

Port of Milwaukee authorities say they requested D.H.S. to do a full security analysis of Jones Island to find areas of improvement. The final report shows a lengthy list of deficiencies from perimeter security fencing to anti-terrorism measures.

The Port of Milwaukee is a hidden economic gem just south of downtown. Cargo ships drop off and pick up millions of tons of goods there each year, but D.H.S. says major security upgrades are needed to keep it safe and secure from potential threats.

”It’s the threats of our day, making sure that we can continue to protect the safe unloading and offloading of freight, be it from a rail-car, be it from a ship that’s transiting the Great Lakes, be it from a ship that’s visiting us from around the world,” said Port Milwaukee Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht.

Tindall-Schlicht says a D.H.S. team came to the port last summer to do the security analysis. The report shows Port Milwaukee’s protective measures are below average compared to 70 other access ports across the country.

The report states, “None of the facility’s employees have U.S. government security clearance.” That means personnel can’t review classified information on pertinent threats. The report also says “The facility lacks procedures for handling suspicious packages” and it needs to improve collaboration with local law enforcement. But the biggest area of concern is physical security.

“One of the things we saw in this study was increased perimeter security and we are tackling that immediately,” Tindall-Schlicht said. “Increased fencing, increased lighting, increased security camera systems.”

Tindall-Schlicht says unlike most other large shipping ports across the country, Port Milwaukee has publicly-owned land that requires portions to remain open to the public for recreational use. He says that creates more security challenges because it can’t be fully closed off.

“Port Milwaukee has operated safely and securely for 60 years with our current infrastructure,” he said. “We have had no major security incident and indeed, we meet all requirements under city, state and federal law for how we are supposed to operate currently. What Homeland Security has shown us is new ideas, new areas for improvement based off of what other ports are doing across the country.”

Tindall-Schlicht says Port Milwaukee plans to submit a grant application through D.H.S. this summer to specifically address these areas of improvement for safety and security.

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