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Napolitano visits Philly as part of heightened security campaign

(The following story by Paul Nussbaum appeared on the Philadelphia Inquirer website on July 2, 2010.)

PHILADELPHIA With a show of police power, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano brought a new vigilance campaign to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station on Thursday.

Napolitano and newly installed Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole joined Amtrak and local police to tout her department's "see something, say something" program to engage rail travelers in safety efforts. Traveling by Amtrak Acela Express, they also stopped in New York and Washington.

The Philadelphia train station looked like an armed camp - or an airport - as the vast departure hall was filled with TSA officers, canine officers with their bomb-sniffing dogs, Amtrak police with body armor and semiautomatic rifles, Homeland Security police, and Philadelphia police.

Curious travelers kept a wary eye on the police while trying to check departure boards and get to boarding platforms.

Police will be out in larger-than-usual numbers at Northeast rail stations throughout the July Fourth extended weekend as part of an effort to increase coordinated security efforts, including random baggage inspections, identification checks, canine sweeps, and onboard security inspections.

Napolitano said the heightened security was "not a response to any specific threat or new intelligence."

She said Amtrak and federal law enforcement agencies had created a new information-sharing capability to make it easier to spread the word about possible terrorist activities. And, to involve the traveling public in the effort, her department borrowed the slogan that has been used by New York City's transit agency for years.

Since 2002, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has put up subway posters, encouraging riders: "If you see something, say something."

"If you see something that doesn't seem right . . . report it to law enforcement," Napolitano said.

Philadelphia-area transit agencies have received $3 million for public awareness efforts and $80 million for additional equipment, Napolitano said. The money, from previously announced "transit security grants," went to SEPTA, NJ Transit, PATCO, and the Delaware Transit Corp.

Before arriving in Philadelphia, Napolitano swore in former FBI director Pistole as TSA administrator in New York's Pennsylvania Station. He was confirmed by the Senate last week to fill the top TSA job.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who in his previous position as Washington police chief worked with Pistole, said local police forces "know that there will be a stronger partnership with him at the helm of TSA."

Friday, July 2, 2010

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