WASHINGTON — Amtrak Police, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel and law enforcement officers from more than 100 federal, state, local, rail and transit police agencies were deployed at approximately 150 passenger rail stations throughout the Northeast Corridor region in an exercise of expanded counterterrorism and incident response capabilities.
The deployment happened Sept. 9.
The multi-force security surge across 13 states and Washington, DC, is NOT in response to any particular threat or incident. Rather, today’s deployment is part of Operation ALERTS (Allied Law Enforcement for Rail and Transit Security), a coordinated effort involving activities such as heightened station patrols, increased security presence onboard trains, explosives detection canine sweeps, and random passenger bag inspections at unannounced locations.
“Operation ALERTS will enhance the readiness and communication capabilities of hundreds of police and security officials stationed in some of the heaviest rail passenger areas along the Northeast Corridor, ” said Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor. “Our law enforcement partners in this deployment represent first responder agencies that will protect and defend the railways during any type of emergency or potential threat.”
Over the past few years, terrorist attacks, attempts and plots around the globe have specifically targeted rail and mass transit. The security implications of this activity in the United States, particularly in the region with the greatest concentration of public transportation users, have spurred the formation of a strong coalition of transportation and law enforcement agencies in the Northeast Corridor area.
Approximately 750,000 rail passengers ride Amtrak trains along the Northeast Corridor and other commuter rail systems integrated with the Corridor each day.
“Regional partnerships, like those so well exhibited in the Northeast Corridor today, are critical to ensuring the safety of the traveling public in our nation’s rail and transit systems,” said John Sammon, TSA assistant administrator, Transportation Sector Network Management (TSNM). “The commitment of State and local departments has been particularly impressive, producing a unified effort that has expanded the range of resources for the random and unpredictable security activities that are essential to deterrence. We look forward to conducting more of these operations in the future, varying in size, timing, and location.”
Amtrak and TSA plan to conduct similar joint operations regionally along the Northeast Corridor area in the future, as well as in other parts of our nation’s rail system as part of an enhanced security strategy. The Sept. 9 deployments will be reviewed to identify lessons learned as part of a continuous improvement approach, including evaluation of requirements and tactics for effective response to any future threats or incidents within the railway system, officials said.
The operation also provides an important model for developing regional “templates” that will facilitate smaller-scale, but more frequent, joint rail security operations.
Operation ALERTS took place at rail stations in 13 states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia — as well as Washington.