WASHINGTON — Amtrak today announced the deployment of its new specialized Amtrak Mobile Security Team to patrol stations and trains and randomly inspect passenger baggage.
The Mobile Security Team supplements ongoing patrols already in place by Amtrak to enhance the safety and security of passenger rail travel. The deployment of the Mobile Security Team and the launch of random baggage inspection are further steps in Amtrak’s ongoing efforts to strengthen rail security as a means to minimize the risk of terrorist threats. The Mobile Security Teams will ultimately be deployed nationwide.
“Keeping our customers and employees safe remains our priority,” said Alex Kummant, Amtrak president and chief executive officer. “These new procedures will strengthen Amtrak’s overall security, and they are vital in our efforts to deter, detect, and prevent a terrorist incident on the rail system.”
Random baggage inspections have been found to be an effective security tool for deterring individuals who may pose a threat. Since predictable security can be exploited, this random screening and patrols will be unpredictable and will appear at varied times and stations.
These new measures are not in response to any new or particular threat and are in full coordination with the Department of Homeland Security.
The Mobile Security Team’s squads may consist of armed specialized Amtrak police, explosives-detecting K-9 units and armed counter-terrorism special agents in tactical uniforms. They will screen passengers, randomly inspect baggage and patrol stations. These squads also may sweep through trains using K-9 units.
“The screening and mobile units were developed as part of Amtrak’s working hand-in-hand with domestic and international counter-terrorism agencies and experts to continually fortify Amtrak’s safety and security practices,” said William Rooney, Amtrak vice president, Security Strategy and Special Operations. “Random inspections and armed special agent patrols are a prudent and necessary security enhancement and are similar to programs in New York, Boston, Madrid and London.”
Passengers will have the right to refuse inspection. However, if they do so, they will not be permitted to board the train and will be offered a ticket refund.
The Mobile Security Team’s procedures will not affect train schedules. Random passenger baggage inspection is a quick process and typically will take less than a minute. The randomly-selected boarding passengers can expect the Mobile Security Team to move swiftly and in a minimally intrusive manner to ensure passenger travel time is not affected.
The new procedures are an enhancement to strategic security measures already in place such as:
- Uniformed police and plain clothes officers on trains and in stations
- Security cameras
- Random identification checks
- “See Something, Say Something,” passenger education program to promote involvement and raise vigilance
- Investments in state-of-the-art security technology
- Security awareness training for the entire Amtrak workforce
- Behind-the-scenes activities that remain undisclosed
Information about the new procedures is available in selected stations, ticket counters, and on trains.