The Price of Security
July 27th, 2008

On a visit to Chicago last week, it quickly became apparent something was missing — and not just the Waterfalls, the latest Mike Bloomberg rumor, our ocean beaches or a World Series contender (oops, they do have that). No, it was the constant searches and surveillance — the never-ending security that New Yorkers have come to take for granted since 9/11.

My evidence is anecdotal, but:

–No police wait to search large bags on the subways, as far as I could see;
–No one stopped me — let alone asked for ID or put my bag through a metal detector — on my way to a business appointment in a Loop building;
–No one thought to question me as I wandered into another Loop building — the famed Rookery. I was not stopped as I poked into stairwells and admired the ceiling. Just try that in the Tweed Courthouse, say, or the Woolworth Building. And no one questioned a young man shooting pictures of what I was merely gawking at;
–And perhaps most surprising, no guards search people entering the Art Institute.

It’s amazing how good this felt. And it gave rise to thoughts about whether we really need all the searches, identifications, metal detectors, sensors that characterize life in New York. Has Al Queda really targeted midtown law firms? The building where my doctor has her office? And this is to say nothing of the constant police presence, barriers, barricades, rules and often-rude instructions that mark even the most benign NYC event.

Reasonable people can differ about whether all this security is necessary in the post 9/11 world. But however we come down on that question, we have to acknowledge that all the security does take a toll on us — and on our appreciation and enjoyment of our city. Maybe it’s time to discuss whether we need to ease up a bit.

By on July 27, 2008, 10:16 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety | 1 Comment »

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One Response to “The Price of Security”

  1. Photophores: July 28, 2008 « Kinetic Loop Says:
    July 28th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    […] New Yorker visits Chicago and likes the lack of “constant searches and surveillance” (though Chicago has expanded surveillance lately). “It’s amazing how good this felt. […]

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