US Rail Security Increased Over Labor Day Weekend
Photo via Twitter/DHSGov
With the specter of the recent attempted terrorist attack aboard a high speed train in Europe looming, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security isn’t taking any chances over the holiday weekend — rail travelers will be seeing a lot of the Transportation Security Administration, according to the Associated Press.
Speaking to reporters at Washington DC’s Union Station just before the start of the holiday, Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson did declare he had “great confidence in the safety of rail travel” in the U.S., the AP said.
However, Johnson said, per the AP, “Obviously when you have a situation where you have heroes among civilians, that is homeland security of the last resort," referring to the individuals who stopped the terror attack. "We here want to and need to be involved first,” he said.
To that end, “Operation Rail Safe” will be in effect over the Labor Day weekend, providing what Johnson called “enhanced security presence” over the holiday, according to the AP.
The Amtrak Police Department website states that Operation Rail Safe includes “heightened station and right-of-way patrols, increased security presence onboard trains, explosives detection canine sweeps, random passenger bag inspections, and counter-surveillance.”
The AP also said VIPR (Visual Intermodal Prevention and Response) patrols would be deployed. These are teams of behavior detection officers, explosives experts and air marshals who are staying on the ground for this occasion to help out.
TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger acknowledged to the AP that rail’s openness and numerous access points make it a “complex” security environment.
But Johnson was reassuring, the AP said, and stated, “We're always adapting, we're always evolving, we're always learning from experiences” to “stay one step ahead of the next attempt or attack.”
And the AP noted Johnson, who has a Pullman train porter ancestor, intended to ride the Acela to his home in New Jersey right after he was done talking to the press.
He reiterated to travelers, "the public can participate in homeland security — that's what 'if you see something, say something' is all about."
More by Michael Isenbek
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