TSA Increases Suspicionless Spot Checks at Train Stations

TSA searches have been expanding in recent months, thanks to its 25 Visible Intermodal Prevention & Response Teams which conduct random checks without suspicion. First authorized in 2005, they are now increasingly being used at train stations. The checks are being noticed at LA's Union Station. An additional 12 teams are planned for 2012. Since last summer, the VIPR teams have conducted 9,300 suspicionless searches.

What's a Visible Intermodal Prevention & Response Team? According to TSA:

Visible Intermodal Protection and Response (VIPR) teams consist of a combination of STSIs, Federal Air Marshals, explosive-detection canine teams, Aviation Security Inspectors, and Transportation Security Officers. The teams provide a random, announced, high-visibility surge into a transit agency, in addition to enhancing agency resources during special events. More than 50 mass transit deployments have occurred since the program was initiated in December 2005. Regional planning and execution is increasing the frequency of deployments and enhancing local expertise, thereby increasing the terrorism deterrent effect.

Here is the statute authorizing VIPR teams. It is the January, 2011 version, which provided funds from 2007 through 2011. When did the funds get renewed for 2012? The 2012 DHS Budget asked for:

Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) Teams: $109 million requested supports 37 VIPR teams and includes 12 new multi-modal VIPR Teams proposed in the FY 2012 request in addition to the 10 existing teams in Aviation and the 15 VIPR teams dedicated to surface transportation added in the FY 2010 budget.

The conference report for the DHS budget authorized:

$11,755,000 for 12 new Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, with the assumption that personnel for the teams will not be hired until late in fiscal year 2012. TSA shall provide an expenditure plan to the Committees no later than 60 days after the
date of enactment of this Act detailing where and how new VIPR teams will be deployed.

The 2010 Homeland Security Budget asked for an increase of $50 million:

Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Teams: An increase of $50 million is requested to fund 15 Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams dedicated to guarding surface transportation. The VIPR teams contain multi-skilled resources, including Transportation Security Inspectors, canine teams, Transportation Security Officers, Bomb Detection Officers, and Federal Air Marshals.

According to DHS:

These teams enhance the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) ability to screen passengers, identify suspicious behavior, and act as a visible deterrent to potential terrorists in surface transportation environments

In all, for 2012, TSA got $7.8 billion, including funds for:

  • 250 additional Advanced Imaging Technology machines;
  • 145 new behavior detection officers;
  • 12 additional multi-modal Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams;
  • 20 additional explosives detection canine teams; and
  • 53 new positions to strengthen international air cargo security
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  • Display: Sort:
    If first authorized in 2005 (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by BTAL on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 06:44:32 PM EST
    What has triggered implementation now?  Viable intelligence or an administration taking even larger over the boundary steps?

    A budget line (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 09:16:04 PM EST
    is not a form of substantive statutory authorization to conduct these "non-criminal" searches.  Wouldn't authorization and some sort of standards and guidelines be required by constitutional law?

    Definition of suspicious behavior by TSA = (none / 0) (#3)
    by Chuck0 on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 10:01:08 PM EST
    questioning anything a TSA moron says or does. Or asking for clarification of an order given by a TSA moron. Or .... and here's my favorite. Pointing your finger at a TSA moron. I was threatened with arrest and refused boarding on a flight from Harrisburg to Newark, NJ for, yes, pointing at a TSA moron. I refuse to fly in this country. Recently took a train trip from DC to New Orleans, but I guess they're trying to ruin that. In Chicago right now. Drove from PA although a plane ticket was offered. I will not fly in this country ever again. Going to China next year. I'm driving to Toronto to board an Air Canada flight. I will not endure interaction with the TSA ever again. Not for any reason.

    Based strictly on the evidence (1.00 / 1) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Wed Dec 28, 2011 at 02:30:23 AM EST
     you have presented here I have, what seems to me, to be a plausible solution to your unfortunate problem. In the future try asking a grown up to read the signs to you out loud. I believe you will get to the one that states, "children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent, or a responsible adult.

    You see, ChuckO, your problem was trying to fly as an adult, and based on your obviously counterproductive attempt at elocution, I would say your decision to "... not fly in this country ever again," was definitely the right choice.


    Post of (none / 0) (#5)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Dec 28, 2011 at 02:35:59 PM EST
    the week.  True, its only a couple of days into the week so far.  

    HUH? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Chuck0 on Wed Dec 28, 2011 at 07:42:41 PM EST
    You should really get off your knees. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Chuck0 on Wed Dec 28, 2011 at 07:43:24 PM EST
    The TSA doesn't need any more groveling.