(8/7) The gates at the Department of
Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in Emmitsburg will once
again be guarded come the end of the month following a year and a half of open
“Over the course of the last year and a
half we’ve become more customer friendly,” said Tom Olshanski, spokesperson for
the U. S. Fire Academy.
Visitors to FEMA have been able to freely
enter the site, prompted only by a large sign at the entrance to check in at
the security office before proceeding to their destination. This “Open Gate
Policy” has posed several problems, including parking issues and visitors
entering the wrong buildings, which at times interrupted meetings and such.
“We’ve been operating on the honor system,
that was not really quite working,” Olshanski said. “We try to accommodate
people… but with the guards it worked so well.”
Thus the decision was made to once again
have guards at the gate. With thousands of visitors, tourists and students
entering the site each year, Olshanski believes the change will help keep order
and help things run smoother. The change is not being made because of any
heightened security threats.
Olshanski said mostly likely three guards
would work the gate at a time, as it once was. The public is still invited to
visit the site and its many monuments and cafeteria, Olshanski said, and will
only be required to state their name and purpose to the guards who will check
them in and direct them to the proper place.
FEMA officials met with Emmitsburg Mayor
James Hoover recently to discuss the change, in an effort to keep local
officials apprised of the change, Olshanski said, which is typical.
“We [FEMA] operate under part of the
Emmitsburg community. Some of our staff live here and we consider you
[Emmitsburg] good neighbors, we depend on the town,” Olshanski said. “Anytime
there’s change we like to let the leadership know.”
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