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Hidden with code "Policy Violation"
Announcement :: Human Rights
MBTA set to begin passenger ID stops
26 May 2004
MBTA transit police confirmed yesterday they will begin stopping passengers for identification checks at various T locations, apparently as part of new national rail security measures following the deadly terrorist train bombings in Spain.
i've heard a few reports of this happening. one incident, on the greenline, involved the train stopping at park street, and the train itself being boarded by police, and everyone having their IDS checked. IDless folk were taken off the train.

MBTA set to begin passenger ID stops
Effort part of national rail security program
By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff | May 22, 2004

MBTA transit police confirmed yesterday they will begin stopping passengers for identification checks at various T locations, apparently as part of new national rail security measures following the deadly terrorist train bombings in Spain.

Although officials would release few details about the initiative, the identity checks will mark the first time local rail and subway passengers will be asked to produce identification and be questioned about their activities.

Officers have been training for the security checks since May 11, transit officials said. MBTA Police Deputy Chief John Martino confirmed via e-mail yesterday that officers have been training with State Police at South Station this week.

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the State Police involved in the training were from Troop F at Logan International Airport, where such identification checks have been taking place since about a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Pesaturo wouldn't say where or when the identification stops would take place, or how long they would last.

"The training is part of the MBTA's overall plan for enhancing safety and security for the hundreds of thousands of people who use our system every day," Pesaturo wrote in the e-mail. "Law enforcement personnel are being trained to detect whether a person's or persons' actions are an indication of any level of risk or threat to the transit system . . . and to then take appropriate steps based on the observed behavior.

"If the MBTA did not do everything it can to protect transit users, it would be a dereliction of our duties and responsibilities as public servants," he added.

Ann Davis, Northeast regional spokeswoman for the federal Transportation Security Administration, refused to confirm that T's ID checks are part of a new national rail security program announced Thursday by federal officials. Those new security initiatives are scheduled to start tomorrow, in response to terrorist train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 and injured 2,000.

"We don't want to map out for potential terrorists how we intend to protect the rails," she said.

Concerns about threats to the nation's rail system have risen since ABC News reported a pattern of suspicious activities along the rail corridor between Washington, D.C., and New York. The report said New Jersey's attorney general is investigating at least seven instances in the last week of suspected surveillance along the New Jersey Transit commuter lines leading into Philadelphia, Trenton, and New York.

FBI agents in Philadelphia are also investigating the discovery of an infrared sensor concealed along the track bed of a Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority rail line.

The State Police officers based at Logan who are instructing T police have been trained in "behavior pattern recognition" in order to identify potential terrorists.

According to past interviews with Logan's primary security consultant, Rafi Ron, former head of security at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel, such a program helps avoid accusations of racial profiling and is based on the behavior of those stopped. Logan was the first American airport at which the method was used.

Martino said "we do not racially profile and do not consider that someone is suspicious because they appear to be Middle Eastern or that they are not suspicious if they don't appear to be."

The expansion of identity checks to rail and subway passengers has raised concerns among civil rights advocates about what is gained through such stops and whether they are truly random.

Last October, State Police at Logan stopped Lylburn King Downing, the national coordinator of the American Civil Liberties Union's Campaign Against Racial Profiling -- and an African-American -- who was ordered out of the airport after he refused to answer an officer's questions during an identification check.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has since sought more information about the policies of Massachusetts Port Authority and State Police governing such searches, but ACLU officials say they have had little cooperation from either agency.

"About a year ago they admitted they were using training based on an Israeli security model of behavioral profiling or selection which they declined to either explain or to otherwise amplify what it means," said John Reinstein, legal director for the ACLU of Massachusetts. "We asked for the records and they said that's no longer a public record because anything that has to do with security is no longer a public record."
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