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Guard steps up rail security

(The following article by Charles Dianis was posted on the Greenwich Time website on August 5.)

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Connecticut National Guard members yesterday began random patrols of Metro-North Railroad stations as part of the state's heightened security efforts.

The guardsmen had been riding on trains with state troopers since Monday, but National Guard members will instead provide an extra presence on Metro-North platforms, according to Maj. John Whitford.

"This was done to provide the full effect of security on the railways. You're looking at one agency doing one thing, and another agency doing another," said Whitford, a National Guard spokesman.

The state activated its emergency management center Monday after the federal government released information suggesting financial sites in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., could be targeted by terrorists.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell held conference calls Monday with business and municipal leaders out of concerns that al-Qaida might change targets because of greater security in New York City.

Whitford said armed Na-tional Guard members will rotate between stations on Metro-North's New Haven Line.

"They will be mostly on the platforms," he said. "They will be there as people exit and enter the trains and otherwise show a presence."

Metro-North spokesman Dan Brucker said the railroad welcomes the extra layer of security.

"We think it's an excellent idea," he said. "Their protection and presence is desired not only by Metro-North, but also by our customers."

The guardsmen can also serve as a source for reporting suspicious activity, Whitford said. "If someone sees something unusual, by all means, let us know," he said.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

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