Chicago police have announced they plan to stop rush hour public transit riders before they pass through turnstiles and screen their bags for explosives. There is no threat. The police see this as a proactive approach to terrorism that doesn’t exist.
There is “no known terrorist threat” that prompted the new procedure slated to begin the week of Nov. 3, Nancy Lipman, Chicago police commander for public transportation, said Friday at a news conference announcing the initiative.
So, there is no threat, yet the city of Chicago is going to toss out civil liberties just because they can.
Chicago police spokesman Marty Maloney says the security measure is a “proactive, protective measure.”
Proactive and protective of whom? There is no threat.
“We know that surface transportation has been targeted in other places in the past [Madrid, New York, London, Russia] and want to take whatever precautions possible,” Maloney told RedEye.
So, surface transportation has been targeted in one other American city, but three others in Europe are being tossed in to add a fear factor and justification for the city of Chicago.
Amtrak and the New York City and Washington transit stations employ a similar screening measure, Lipman said.
This is akin to, “if all your other friends are doing it, you might as well do it, too.”
Chicago police say they will randomly select one rail station each day to set up the screening table outside the rail turnstiles during rush hour. Lipman said most of the stations will be downtown but other stops will be included as well.
Soon after the tables are put up, thousands of people will find out about it via the Internet and newly created apps and most people will avoid this stop.
A team of four to five officers will man the table, which will have two explosives testing machines.
Police will approach riders, whom they have randomly selected by picking a random number that morning, Lipman said.
For example, if police pick the number 10, they will ask the 10th person who enters the station, then the 20th and so on, Lipman said.
Police say they will swab the outside of the bags but will not open them during the test.
They won’t open them, for now. As soon as everyone complies with this “randomness” the test will require searches of bags.
Riders who pass the test are free to enter the turnstiles. Officers will ask to inspect the bags of riders who fail the test. Police say the machines are testing the presence of explosives, not drugs.
The whole process should take “less than a minute,” Lipman said during the Friday press conference at the Clinton stop on the Green and Pink lines. “We expect it to have no impact on a customer’s commute time.”
Riders who refuse to have their bag swabbed won’t be allowed to get on the train—in fact they’ll be ordered to leave the station. But they can head to another station to board the train, police said.
Because this is being done during rush hour, it will probably be just as easy to leave the train station and return a few moments later and the police won’t notice simply because there’s too many people.
Or, if police suspect the rider is involved in “further suspicious activity, and if we determine that probable cause exists to stop him/her for questioning, we might do so,” Maloney said.
“Further suspicious activity” is conveniently not described and intentionally vague. All for your safety of course. This won’t be abused.
Riders who say no to the swabbing but try to enter that station’s turnstiles face arrest, police say.
And your free movement within the United States is restricted in the name of a non-existent threat to your safety.
The screenings at stations will occur “several times a week,” police said.
Good luck, Chicago. Please fight against this ridiculousness.