Insta-CoGo: Will Amtrak Be More Secure?
First off, both uniformed and plain clothes officers will be riding the trains and be present in stations. The so-called "Mobile Security Teams" will first be deployed on trains between Washington and New York. No arguments here; seems like a good idea, although I'm not sure I'm keen on the uniformed guards having automatic weapons. Unless the trains are being stormed by entire brigades of terrorists, it seems like an ordinary gun would do the trick, and police with automatic weapons always scare me.
Teams will also show up unannounced at stations and set up baggage screeening areas. Not everyone will pass through, as they'll be random. Those pulled out of line will have their bags swiped with a swab that is put through an explosives detection machine. If the test is positive, the bag owner will have his bags searched. Amtrak predicts it won't delay any trains and the process will only take a minute. Okay, let's see how that goes, although CoGo is hoping that the agents choosing passengers have some training in spotting suspicious behavior. If it's the old "third passenger gets pulled out" it seems rather stupid and ineffective to me.
The agents will also do random identification checks. This strikes me as false security, and nothing more than annoying. What use is it to look at I.D.s unless you're comparing a secure means of identification to an exhaustive data base? Okay, so I have an I.D. How does that make me less of a risk, especially when any teen who wants to drink can figure out how to get a fake I.D.?
Which brings us to Amtrak's confounding longer-term security procedure: If you buy your ticket from an agent at the station, you have to show ID. If you buy a ticket at a kiosk, you don't show I.D.
Either showing I.D. is helpful in some obscure way CoGo can't see, or it's not. If showing I.D. in fact reduces risk somehow, why do it at one point of sale and not another?
Officials take note: You need the cooperation of the general populace, and you erode that support with so-called security measures that seem bogus and false. Either convince us they make sense, or give it up.
Will you feel safer on Amtrak knowing that new security procedures are in place?
By Cindy Loose |
February 19, 2008; 12:58 PM ET
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