From Planes To Trains: TSA Expands Spot Searches To Union Station

From Planes To Trains: TSA Expands Spot Searches To Union Station (CBS News, Dec. 27, 2011):

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An all-too-familiar sight at LAX and the rest of the nation’s airports will soon be coming to the city’s busiest train station.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports rail passengers have started seeing Transportation Security Administration on patrol at Union Station on a more frequent basis.

As many as 25 VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention & Response) teams began patrolling train stations nationwide last summer conducting an estimated 9,300 “suspicionless” spot searches of travelers.

The agency has said the presence of officers with explosive detection dogs, radiation monitors and other devices will act as a deterrent in the nation’s busiest travel hubs.

But some remain wary of the expansion of the TSA’s powers and its potentially constitutional infringements.

“I guess if it didn’t feel like an invasion of my privacy, if I wasn’t being aggressively interrogated or if it wasn’t impeding my personal travel, I guess I would be okay with it,” said Zane.

A video shot in a train station in Savanahh, Georgia, in February apparently showed TSA agents screening passengers as they stepped off a train — as opposed to the more common pre-boarding screening procedures — in a move for which the agency later publicly apologized.

Others, however, said the TSA was a welcome sight outside of the airport terminal.

“I haven’t noticed it around here too much lately,” said Gabby Conklin. “I feel more safer.”

The TSA is planning to add an additional 12 VIPR teams across the country in 2012.

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