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Bomb dogs, bag checks to greet Northeast commuters

(Bloomberg News circulated the following story by Chris Dolmetsch on June 29, 2010.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Commuters from Boston to Washington may notice bomb-sniffing dogs, random bag checks and more police this week as law enforcement agencies conduct security and terror drills at Northeast U.S. transit hubs in preparation for the July 4th holiday weekend.

The Transportation Security Administration is deploying personnel to transit stations in the Northeast during morning and evening rush hours this week, through the July 4 Independence Day holiday in the U.S., along with Amtrak police, and federal, state, local and transit law-enforcement officers.

The surge is part of Operation RAIL SAFE, an alliance that works to coordinate resources for responses to rail and transit emergencies throughout the U.S., and isn’t in response to a particular threat or incident, the TSA said in a statement yesterday.

The New York City Police Department today deployed about 100 officers at four locations in Manhattan as part of the operation, said Paul Browne, a department spokesman: Pennsylvania Station, the nation’s busiest passenger rail station; Grand Central Terminal; Herald Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Joint Effort

On July 2, before the holiday weekend, the NYPD will conduct a surge at major transit hubs during the afternoon and evening rush hours with personnel from Amtrak; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; the National Guard; New Jersey Transit; the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey; and the TSA, Browne said.

“This is something the NYPD does multiple times throughout the year to include other agencies and maximize police visibility in mass transit,” Browne said in an e-mail.

U.S. markets are closed July 5 for the Independence Day holiday.

The NYPD and Amtrak in 2005 established a coalition to improve security along the national passenger railroad’s tracks between New York and Washington, and the department also began random bag checks on the city’s subways following the London transit bombings in July that year, Browne said. The New York subway system is the busiest in the U.S.

Law enforcement agencies in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Newark, New Jersey, will conduct similar patrols in their cities’ transit hubs, Browne said. The drill is the second Operation RAIL SAFE exercise this year, he said. RAIL SAFE is an acronym for Regional Alliance Including Local, State and Federal Efforts.

The operation includes activities such as increased station patrols, more officers on trains, sweeps with bomb-sniffing dogs and random passenger bag inspections at unannounced locations, the administration said.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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