(Laura Anthony) People are used to seeing TSA inspectors at airports but on Wednesday, a specialized team made their presence known at the Amtrak station in Emeryville.
Train stations are difficult to secure because they’re so wide open but on Wednesday, the TSA showed up unannounced to let the public, especially potential troublemakers, know that they are keeping an eye on the rails.
Amtrak passenger Vera Molina said she noticed all the black-clad TSA inspectors right away and it’s a presence she appreciates. Asked if she would like to see them more often she said, “I would, can’t hurt, just in case you never know.” As part of their nationwide “Viper Team” effort, the Transportation Safety Administration put about a dozen agents at the station to see and be seen, although some of the inspectors also work undercover.
“The visible deterrent is making a presence known at the station, getting on the train, talking to passengers, lettings the bad guys know that we’re here, and letting the passengers know that we’re here, and working with law enforcement to really tailor our Viper teams to their needs,” TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.
The idea is to look for signs of trouble in a place that can be difficult to police because of its wide open environment. That said, the TSA and Amtrak believe that working together they can make rail travel as safe as it can be. “We do have random baggage checks and we do have, at some of the larger stations, we have canine units and we do random sweeps of stations, tracks, infrastructure,” Amtrak spokesperson Vernae Graham said.
Some of those who regularly travel on Amtrak said they think the current level of security s just enough. Passenger Greg Hayes said he wouldn’t’ want to go through screening. “No, no. I would hope that we don’t come to that. I can’t see trains being really the source of a security problem, but then maybe I’m not imaginative enough,” he said.
The TSA’s Viper teams aren’t just used to patrol transportation sites like train stations. They also have been used and will be used at high-profile events in the Bay Area.