Sheriff’s units increase random checkpoint screenings at Metro Rail stations

The Transit Services Bureau of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has increased the number of random baggage and package screenings conducted at various Metro Rail checkpoints. The increase is due to anti-terrorism training of additional law enforcement personnel provided by the bureau’s Special Operations Threat Interdiction Unit.

“The goal is to have concerned law enforcement personnel trained in all aspects of counter-terrorism so that, in the event of a serious threat, we have a full cadre of specifically trained personnel able to expand the operation to cover the entire system at a moment’s notice,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Commander Pat Jordan.

The counterterrorism training of additional law enforcement personnel is funded by a $600,000 Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant awarded to the LASD Transit Services Bureau.

Metro contracts with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to patrol all rail stations including Union Station, its buses and trains and to protect passengers.

The Threat Interdiction Unit (TIU) began conducting random screenings nearly three years ago.

Since then, the 12-person counterterrorism team, with the assistance of LASD Explosive Detection Canine Teams, has been screening items on the Metro Rail system, conducting as many as six, two-hour operations a day.

A typical Mobile Search and Screening Team (MSST) operation involves deputies setting up a checkpoint at a train station which includes a large sign announcing to patrons that once they enter the station, they are subject to baggage searches by Sheriff’s personnel.

The screenings do not include body pat downs, scanners or searches. During the screenings, deputies also check for fare evaders and are able to detect other crime, such as possession of illegal narcotics or weapons.

“The concept is that through this unpredictable, randomized deterrent, we’re going to deter terrorism,” said Jordan. The teams deploy special screening devices and canine units to detect possible explosives.

Currently, the funding for the TIU operation is included in Metro’s contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement services through June 30, 2012. The operation was funded for the first two and a half years by Federal grants.

“All passengers are reminded to take action if you notice suspicious activity or items,” said Jordan. “If you see something, say something,” he said. Call the Sheriff’s hotline at 888-950-SAFE.

Categories: Safety

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8 replies

  1. I agree with all of the above — just more Soviet-style policing. I can’t wait to retire and move to another country rather than live in an increasingly police state.

  2. I don’t agree with these random searches from a constitutional basis but also because it will slow down the efficient movement of patrons and discourage transit use for obvious reasons. And I completely agree with what Y said about the merchants and retailers.

  3. @Transit Rider

    I agree with you that what Metro is doing here goes right against our Constitutional rights.

    But sadly, this is the norm in America today. Our solution for security is to add more gestapo officers who can do anything (illegal searches) and make up laws as they please (invoke the “9-11 law” so you can’t take pictures of the trains) all in the name of security because “that’s what people want.”

    Just look at the TSA at the airports. Nude-o-scopes, backscatter machines, public molestations and gropings, all in the name of “security.” We give up our freedoms in the name of preventing “terrorism” and if you don’t like it, you’re considered unpatriotic or viewed as a possible terrorist. In their view, “if you have nothing to hide, you should submit to random searches, never mind the US Constitution, it takes a backseat all in the name of security.”

    You know what other countries do? Their solution is to let in merchants and retailers to train stations to add another layer of security instead of falling down the spiral into a police state.

  4. P.S. When can we expect to see checkpoints on LA Metro-maintained freeways for inspections of cargo, trunks and vehicle interiors?

    Won’t somebody please think of the children!?!

  5. I see no positive outcome with this policy. If you ask me, all this does is invite overpolicing and reinforce paranoia.

  6. “A sign hung in the corner of a train station stating bags may be subject to search does not negate the need to demonstrate probable cause for the search by law enforcement.”

  7. “Some train stations and bus stations have signs stating that any packages brought into the premises may be subject to search, however unless specifically stated, these searches would be limited to a train station not the platform outside, or bus station boarding area outside the building. Furthermore these search advisory signs generally apply to a search being conducted by law enforcement and require law enforcement to have probable cause to warrant the search of a bag. A sign hung in the corner of a train station stating bags may be subject to search does not negate the need to demonstrate probable cause for the search by law enforcement.”

  8. I do not agree with this METRO.. I do not want my things searched to prevent “terrorism”. What ever happened to having rights, and police policing the right people? Lets see how many non terrorist get arrested for other things in comparison to actual “terrorist”.