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.
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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