Chicago, IL – Riders and a public transit expert expressed skepticism about a Chicago police plan to stop some rush-hour riders before they pass through rail station turnstiles to screen their bags for explosives.
There is “no known terrorist threat” that prompted the new procedure slated to begin the week of Nov. 3, Nancy Lipman, Chicago police commander for public transportation, said Friday at a news conference announcing the initiative.
Chicago police spokesman Marty Maloney says the security measure is a “proactive, protective measure.”
What he’s really saying is DHS/police are working really hard at keeping the public in fear over a non-existent threat!
The ACLU wrote in a 2011 letter of protest to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. “The costs to individual liberty seem to far outweigh what deterring or preventive effect—if any at all—the searches may have on terrorism.”
DHS has over 800 teams deployed across the country in support of security and screening operations.
There isn’t any justification for the deployment of random explosive-residue-swabbing checkpoints at public transit stations.
“We know that surface transportation has been targeted in other places in the past [Madrid, New York, London, Russia] and want to take whatever precautions possible,” Maloney told RedEye.
The program is similar to those established in New York City subways in July 2005, after suicide bombings on London’s Underground and a city bus killed 52 passengers; on Boston’s T in 2006; on the Los Angeles area’s Metrolink in 2008; and Washington, DC’s Metro in 2010. Boston and Washington, like Chicago, only check for explosives, while police in New York and L.A. can go through passengers’ bags.
While officials won’t disclose the pricetag for the CTA security initiative, it is being fully funded with part of a $3.5 million DHS anti-terrorism grant.
It is funded by the federal TSA’s (DHS) Rail and Transit Security Grant Program. As of fiscal 2014, the program authorized $600,000 a year per team for “Mobile Explosive Screening Team OPacks” to “deploy combinations of trained individuals and technologies”—a combination of the machines and explosive-sniffing dogs—to “assist in making screening decisions where there are large numbers of individuals with hand-carried items.”
The five subway systems doing such searches are all on the TSA’s “Top Transit Asset List,” along with New Jersey Transit, the Philadelphia area’s SEPTA subway and commuter-rail system, the San Francisco-Oak
Chicago police say they’ll randomly select one rail station each day to set up the screening table outside the rail turnstiles during rush hour.
A team of four to five officers will man the table, which will have two explosives testing machines.
Police will approach riders, whom they have randomly selected by picking a random number that morning, Lipman said.
Riders who pass the test are free to enter the turnstiles. Officers will ask to inspect the bags of riders who fail the test. Police say the machines are testing the presence of explosives, not drugs.
The whole process should take “less than a minute,” Lipman said during the Friday press conference at the Clinton stop on the Green and Pink lines. “We expect it to have no impact on a customer’s commute time.”
Riders who refuse to have their bag swabbed won’t be allowed to get on the train—in fact they’ll be ordered to leave the station. But they can head to another station to board the train, police said.
Don’t believe it, they’re counting on the sheeple to go along with this egregious violation of our civil rights. The B.S. party line is it’s for your safety, screw your rights…we want to take whatever precautions possible!
If police suspect the rider is involved in “further suspicious activity, and if we determine that probable cause exists to stop him/her for questioning, we might do so,” Maloney said. Riders who say no to the swabbing but try to enter that station’s turnstiles face arrest, police say.
There’s the tell, if you refuse you’re a suspect and will be stopped for further questioning! .DHS/Transit cops will be free to perform less voluntary searches should they decide “probable cause” exists to do so.