The Agarns Among Us


Via the Politech list comes this Boston Globe report that transit cops in Beantown (and elsewhere, we can safely assume) "will begin stopping passengers for identification checks at various T [Boston's commuter rail system] locations, apparently as part of new national rail security measures following the deadly terrorist train bombings in Spain."

A spokesman for the transit system said, "Law enforcement personnel are being trained to detect whether a person's or persons' actions are an indication of any level of risk or threat to the transit system…and to then take appropriate steps based on the observed behavior."

Such moves are, naturally, controversial, especially since similar "activity-based" surveillance measures put in place in Boston's Logan Airport last fall resulted in cops picking up "Lylburn King Downing, the national coordinator of the American Civil Liberties Union's Campaign Against Racial Profiling—and an African-American—who was ordered out of the airport after he refused to answer an officer's questions during an identification check."

Incidents such as that, of course, underscore the real fear of giving police a freer hand in stopping people: That such discretion will be used not as a way of rooting out the terrorists among us but as a means of harassing minorities and other populations.

It doesn't help that the transit cops apparently got their training from the unfortunately named Massachusetts State Police Troop F, which conjures up the incompetent antics of TV's zanily lovable crew of genocidal Indian killers.