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Some cities in U.S. step up security for commuters

(The New York Times posted the following article on its website on July 12.)

NEW YORK -- The effects of the explosions in Mumbai were felt half a world away yesterday when law enforcement and transportation officials in major United States cities expanded surveillance of passengers and packages.

In New York, the Police Department sent extra officers into subway stations and stepped up searches of passenger bags, measures that Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly called precautionary.

“We simply don’t know the causes behind the bombing” in India, Mr. Kelly said, adding that there had been no new or specific threat to New York’s subway system.

The Police Department has officers stationed in a number of world capitals, but not in India, and Mr. Kelly said the department was gathering information about the explosions from federal law enforcement officers and international contacts.

The department responded to the bombings yesterday as it has to other high-profile attacks overseas, officials said, including the bombings of trains in Madrid in 2004 and of buses and trains in London last year.

Transit officers from a day shift were kept on duty through the evening rush, effectively doubling the police presence. Police boats escorted the Staten Island ferry, and swarms of police vehicles gathered unannounced at transit hubs like the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

“Carry on, do your normal business,” Mr. Kelly advised residents and visitors to the city. “Let the professionals be concerned about these types of events, take what we believe to be reasonable precautions.”

In Los Angeles, extra sheriff’s deputies and bomb-sniffing dogs checked major transit hubs, though Rick Jager, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, said no security alerts had been received from Washington.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority said additional officers were in place yesterday, as they have been since the observance of the first anniversary of the London train and bus bombings on Friday.

Recorded messages asking passengers to be alert for suspicious packages were also played over the Atlanta system’s loudspeakers, said Joselyn Butler Baker, director of communications for the system.

Officials of the Metro, Washington’s public transit system, did not increase police presence because of the attacks in India. But officers did don high-visibility vests and announcements urging travelers to be alert for suspicious activity were played more frequently, The Associated Press reported.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

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