ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — It’s a proud symbol of the U.S. military — and that’s why it could be a target. The Naval Academy tells WJZ it’s increasing security in light of recent attacks targeting service members.
Rick Ritter with the steps being taken in Annapolis, just 24 hours before Plebe Parent Weekend.
The Naval Academy is staying very tight lipped about the extent of the security changes, but experts believe the campus is a prime target for terrorists.
Just weeks ago, gunfire erupted in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The target — military recruiting centers. Four marines were murdered. Their families — left shattered.
The massacre put military bases across the country on high alert. Now the United States Naval Academy is increasing security in Annapolis.
“We’re in Annapolis — the Naval Academy of the United States — and it’s come to this,” said Siobhan O’Sullivan, aunt of USNA plebe.
Mary Beth Smith and her daughter, Kaeli, have exercised on campus for years.
“Usually walk about an hour to an hour and a half, do the whole entire perimeter of the academy,” Mary Beth Smith said.
Usually, they’re asked for a driver’s license to enter. Now, they’re screened with metal detecting wands.
“If it’s in the morning and it takes a minute, I understand the extra security,” said Kaeli Smith.
Despite the step-up in security, officials at the Naval Academy say they have no reason to believe the campus is being targeted.
But experts say they’re exactly what terrorists are eying up — a symbol of patriotism.
“They would like to say that even at the places you train your military, you’re not safe there,” said Tyrone Powers, Anne Arundel County Community College.
The Naval Academy released a statement, saying in part: “I will not go into specific details but random changes in security measures is one way for me to ensure the safety and security of our people and facilities.”
Changes many believe are far from temporary.
“Fact of the matter is terrorists are never going to go away,” said Powers.
Powers went on to say when terrorist groups see an increase in security, they tend to choose a softer target.
In May, the security level at military bases across the country was raised — the first time in more than four years.