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Boston police to search rail riders; work stops

(Reuters circulated the following article on June 8.)

BOSTON -- Boston's transit police on Tuesday announced plans to search subway and train riders to foil a possible a terror attack while other city workers brought preparations for the Democratic National Convention to a standstill.

Boston will be the first American city to employ random searches on public transport after March's deadly bombings in Spain, officials said.

``This is a proactive policy designed to deter and prevent a terrorist attack,'' Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police Chief Joseph Carter said.

The random searches will begin in July, before July 4 Independence Day celebrations and ahead of the Democratic National Convention at the end of July.

Work on transforming the site of the Convention from a sports arena to a political hall stopped on Tuesday however as construction workers walked away from the job, refusing to cross another union's picket line.

Since early morning, hundreds of police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians have protested near the FleetCenter where the Convention will kick off on July 26.

``We'll be there until the day before the Convention or until we get a contract,'' said Officer William Malaguti, a member of Boston's Police Patrolmen's Association, which has been without a contract for two years.

The picket line is near a subway and commuter rail station, all part of the nation's fourth largest rail system with nearly 1 million train and subway riders daily.

Tuesday's protests snarled traffic and sparked another round of criticism from locals already angry that train service to Boston's North Station will be halted during the Convention for security reasons.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. cities have stepped up security. And efforts to secure rail systems have been ramped up after the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, which killed 191 people.

Carter said the random searches will be conducted by all 247 uniformed MBTA officers and four bomb sniffing dogs.

``We want the MBTA to be inhospitable to terrorists. They can go someplace else,'' he said.

Carter said the planned searches will randomly pick out riders and are not aimed at singling out anyone.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

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