Port security receives increased focus - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Port security receives increased focus

There's a renewed focus on local port security months after millions of dollars in grant money was earmarked to improve security along the Mississippi River.

Action News Five first started looking into security in and around the Port of Memphis back in 2004.

A Target Five Investigation Investigation uncovered what some security experts felt were significant gaps.

On Thursday we dug around to see if money changed anything.

"We believe that the port is secure," said District 11 Homeland Security Director James Bolden.  "Is it as secure as we want it to be?  Probably not."

Back in November 2004, our Target Five Investigation exposed what some security experts felt was weak security in and around the Port, including access from the river to barges, refineries, chemical plants and other facilities.

Since our story aired, the Port of Memphis and local law enforcement have received millions of dollars in grants to beef up security at the Port with cameras, chemical and motion sensors and surveillance systems.

We wanted to know if any of it closed the security gaps we uncovered.

Coast Guard officials also told us while the port may be safer now, assessing risk is a continuous process and security plans need to evolve accordingly.

"I think that should be something referred to the Port authorities here," Bolden said.

We tried, but the Port's executive director, Donald McCrory refused to answer our questions on camera.

Off camera, McCrory told us the maritime community in Memphis is doing a good job being informed and trained.

A sentiment echoed by the Coast Guard which patrols the waters around the Port.    

"I think the port director and all the port stakeholders have done a great job implementing measures mitigating the risk to the point where I believe the port is as safe as it can be," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr Jerry Davenport

Though officials admit there's always room for improvement.

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