Depending on how you look at it, there’s either another reason to feel safe or another reason to hate commuting on public transit.
PATCO, the transit agency which has more than 34,000 riders a day, began conducting “random” screenings on Tuesday to help ensure safety and security. The searches will be done several times a month jointly with the Transportation Safety Administration and will specifically target improvised explosive devices, officials said.
The searches could include searching passengers or their bags, officials said.
“We’re not there to impede commuters from getting on the train, so we may decide to [screen] every 15 passengers,” said Mike Iannelli, spokesman for the Federal Air Marshals Service, the law enforcement arm of the TSA.
Random screenings often spark questions about racial profiling or other forms of discrimination, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania could not comment on the validity of the PATCO searches yesterday.
“They have to have a reason specific to the individual or a reason that’s specific to the time and place,” ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper said.
The Delaware River Port Authority, the parent agency of PATCO, received roughly $2 million in federal funding to hire eight officers for the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response unit.
On Tuesday, screeners conducted the first search at the Lindenwold station in New Jersey and allegedly found a crack pipe in one passenger’s bag. The unidentified passenger was arrested for an active warrant out of Atlantic County.