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Ready for Cops to Check You for Explosives, Chicago CTA Riders?

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) today announced that next month it will start conducting random baggage screenings before passengers are allowed on the city's public rail system, which is operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

First of all, why? "No known terrorist threat" led to the policy, admits the CPD's Nancy Lipman. However, the "procedure is being fully funded with part of a $3.5 million federal grant for anti-terrorism efforts but officials could not give a total dollar amount," reports Redeye.

Says Lipman:

If the customer is willing to take part in the screening, the outside bag he or she is carrying will be swabbed with a small cloth. The cloth is then inserted into a machine that detects the presence of explosive compounds.

Looking inside bags was deemed too intrusive.

"If they refuse to be screened and still attempt access to our systems, they are subject to arrest. It's up to our officer's discretion," Adam Paulsen, another representative of the department, tells the Chicago Tribune.

The surveillance will take place "several times a week" during rush hour, but don't worry, because getting hassled should take "less than a minute," so "we expect it to have no impact on a customer's commute time, says Lipman.

It's obnoxious, it's intrusive, it's paranoia-inducing, and most of all, it's just security theater. Redeye explains:

Chicago police say they will randomly select one rail station each day to set up the screening table outside the rail turnstiles. A team of four to five officers will man the table, which will have two explosives testing machines. 

So if some lunatic wants to set off an explosive, he can just walk to the next nearest station, or one of the 139 others in the city.   

Here's some predictions: Although hundreds of millions of rides take place annually, no one will get caught trying to sneak a bomb onto a train. There will be false alarms, and a lot of ticked-off, inconvenienced riders. Similar to other CPD policies, minorities will be profiled. Meanwhile, expect the city's out-of-control gun violence problem to persist in spite of strict gun laws.

Chicago's cops have a terrible track record. The city has spent over $500 million in the last decade on lawsuits involving officers. This summer cops were busy citing media-hyped bogus trends to justify using anti-riot tactics against teenagers.  

Photo Credit: cc

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  • Wicked Skin||

    My first thought was, eh, serves those fucks right for giving us Obama. Sure it sucks if your job forces you into a city like Chicago, but anything that helps people feel the same loathing of government that I have...

  • Paul.||

    You can stop 'n frisk me anytime!

    *pulls lever for Bloomberg a second time*

  • flye||

    I'm starting to think that promised 3 hour "bullet train" ride from SF to LA is going to be more like 4-5 hours with early arrival for security screening. I can drive it in just under 5.

  • ||

    But then how will you possibly know if you're traveling with a bomb!?

  • flye||

    No one has to know about your problem -- no one has to know you're impotent!

  • ||

    It's up to our officer's discretion

    Oh well then! There's nothing more comforting that unaccountable thugs are acting without oversight. Freedom!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "If they refuse to be screened and still attempt access to our systems, they are subject to arrest. It's up to our officer's discretion," Adam Paulsen, another representative of the department, tells the Chicago Tribune.

    What need has an honest man for "rights"?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Hey! You voluntold for the social contract. NO BACKSIES!

    OT- I'm in NOLA right now and the don't give a shit attitude of the public transit employees is incredibly fun to witness since I don't have to actually be anywhere. Bonus was the streetcar conductor who started moving up to a car blocking the tracks until she was a about 6 inches away and yelled out the window "It ain't mah train".

  • CJR||

    "So if some lunatic wants to set off an explosive, he can just walk to the next nearest station, or one of the 139 others in the city."

    Or he could pop right there, gung that he'll get a couple of cops, in addition to all the unlucky bastards waiting in line.

    But hey, you gotta spend that federal cash! It might not be around next year!

  • LarryA||

    Or he could pop right there, gung that he'll get a couple of cops, in addition to all the unlucky bastards waiting in line.

    Bonus: they also get the explosive residue detectors.

  • jcalton||

    If the customer is willing to take part in the screening, the outside bag he or she is carrying will be swabbed...

    "If they refuse to be screened and still attempt access to our systems, they are subject to arrest."

    I guess that makes me...willing?

  • LarryA||

    Just like you "voluntarily" pay income tax.

  • Rich||

    the outside bag he or she is carrying will be swabbed

    So, anyone carrying explosives on the outside of their "outside bag" may very well have their nefarious plot foiled.

  • DrAwkward||

    First of all, security lines are ripe targets for terrorists.

    Secondly, "minorities will be profiled" is too optimistic.

  • GroundTruth||

    Guess suburbanites with nice yards better start being careful to wash really well; some of those fertilizers are pretty similar to explosives.

  • fold_left||

    Aah, but the suburbanites mostly take Metra, the commuter rail system, not CTA trains. I'm not so sure this group would
    accept this without protest. Especially since this group includes more than a few people working in influential downtown business sectors.

  • LarryA||

    One more reason never to go to Chicago. I doubt I own a bag without shooting range exposure.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    Interesting point. How far will Chicago go to harass gun owners?

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