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TSA checks emergency procedures in Philadelphia

(The following article by Larry King was posted on the Philadelphia Inquirer website on December 14.)

PHILADELPHIA -- A three-day program to further shield public transportation from terrorist attacks began yesterday in Philadelphia.

The pilot project is designed to add federal air marshals, bomb-sniffing canine teams and security inspectors to the mix of mass-transit protection should a terrorist threat arise.

The test project, variations of which are being conducted in several cities, is focused here on Amtrak's 30th Street Station operations, said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Darrin Kayser.

Earlier reports that the program also involves SEPTA were inaccurate, Kayser said.

Security teams are at the Philadelphia station to familiarize themselves with its operations and to find ways of quickly responding should a terrorist threat arise. TSA officials stressed that no specific threat prompted the exercise.

Similar projects were planned in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Washington.
Along with adding the TSA units to mass transit's anti-terrorist team, the program "gives us the opportunity to test the strength and capabilities of our communications network," TSA spokeswoman Lauren Stover said. "It adds another layer to our security system."

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said TSA had always been involved to some degree with the railroad's anti-terrorism preparations, such as pilot programs last year to test baggage-screening equipment.

"We support that relationship with TSA and its initiative to support rail security," Black said. "We always welcome assistance from federal, state and local law enforcement."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

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