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Multi-Agency Sting Operation on Rail & Bus Successful
Monday, April 16, 2012 5:20 PM  

MPD Chief Victor Rodriguez at news conferenceCORRECTION: Bag checks did not occur.  Please see note in comments section below.  4/24/12

In an unprecedented approach that involved four law enforcement agencies - including federal agents - METRO launched a national BusSafe pilot program last Friday that saturated its system and resulted in quality arrests, making transit safer for passengers.

The METRO Police Department, Houston Police Department, Harris County Precinct 7 Deputy Constables and 15 agents - part of so-called viper teams - from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) joined forces in a synchronized, counter-terrorism exercise that focused on bus stops and shelters and transit centers.

Law officials performed random bag checks, conducted sweeps with our K-9 drug and bomb-detecting dogs, and assigned both uniformed and plainclothes officers at transit centers and rail platforms to detect and prevent criminal activity. At a news conference last Friday, METRO Police Chief Victor Rodriguez called METRO's transit system one of the safest in the world. "We at METRO take our responsibility seriously. We have a safe and secure system," said Rodriguez. "This initiative is going to help us maintain and enhance the safety of our system. It takes this collaborative effort to synergize those expertise and skills for the benefit of all of Houston."

Doyle Raines, general manager at the Transportation Security Administration, said Rodriguez invited the TSA to bring its viper teams to join in this grassroots pilot program that grew from a peer advisory group of mass transit police chiefs and security directors that included METRO's Rodriguez.  

Rodriguez pointed out three elements a safe transit system depends on: crime analysis, input from bus operators and citizens who ride the system. Two officers patrolling the rail platform at Wheeler

Friday's BusSafe operation brought to the table agencies with specific skills - and the combination of those skills led to a productive exercise with quality arrests, said Rodriguez. The large-scale operation with multiple agencies in which no one was hurt demonstrated a rare level of cooperation and collaborative spirit by all the agencies involved.

Friday's operation occurred from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eight felony arrests were made in one shift, compared to five last month.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas District 18), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, called this a new era for the TSA, and a new era for surface transportation security.

"We're looking to make sure that the lady I saw walking with a cane...knows that METRO cares as much about her as we do about building the light rail," said Jackson Lee at the news conference.

 

Comments

Mark Bennett said:

Of course no terrorists were detected in this "counter-terrorism exercise." Instead METRO's constituents, the bus riders, were hassled by an agency, the TSA, best known for its overbearing, aggressive, assaultive and abusive behavior at airport checkpoints.

I'm betting the "eight felony arrests" all involved things that would not, if undetected, have caused "the lady Congresswoman Jackson Lee saw walking with a cane" any harm or even inconvenience.

Shame on you, METRO, and shame on you, Sheila Jackson Lee. Houston doesn't want TSA.

# April 16, 2012 8:28 PM

speedy said:

why having anyone said anything about the metro bus rodeo and who won everyone keeps asking me and where the winner is going this year thank you .

# April 16, 2012 10:13 PM

Mike Harrington said:

Arresting passengers with a some weed on them is not a counter-terrorist operation.  IF terrorists were to target Houston, they can easily find excellent targets at the oil refineries, chemical plants and pipelines.  The fact that these hard-to-defend targets have not been exploited means that this so-called terrorist threat is merely hype to justify unnecessary government intrusion.  If someone has some C-4 explosive and bad intent will they blow up public transit vehicles or a gas pipeline near a crowded freeway?  Tough choice.

# April 17, 2012 11:24 AM

David Velacotes said:

I noticed a typo in your article. "Multi-Agency" should be spelled "Gestapo".

# April 17, 2012 8:25 PM

SB said:

How do "random bag searches" not violate the Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless search and seizure?

Frankly, Metro riders should be a lot more concerned about numerous government authorities stepping on the Constitution in the name of homeland security than of any actual terrorists.

Shame on Metro for taking part in these disgusting shows of force.

# April 18, 2012 11:07 AM

Finewine said:

This is what a nazi police state looks like.

# April 18, 2012 3:31 PM

Teke said:

So what happens when a rider refuses the search without a warrant?

If there are bus routes or trains that are dangerous. Metro has it's own Police force. Put uniformed officers on board as a deterrent. We do not need the feds harassing us.

# April 19, 2012 7:32 AM

Teke said:

I think the ridership should say get rid of the TSA thugs and broad unconstitutional behavior that violates the 4th Ammendment

We can vote with our pocketbook. If Metro does not abolish the program we stop riding.

Yes they have government subsidies but they cannot afford for new lines like 217 with it's garage to run empty. They need the revenue. The are already in debt over their heads.

# April 19, 2012 7:34 AM

Not riding any more said:

Thank you Metro for making my decision to not ride any more.  This is disgusting and the employees of Metro that are going along/allowing this should be fired.  

If this is necessary, let's use trained police and have them in uniform.  Oh wait - that would mean the "officers" understand the Constitution.

I love it - ...Jackson Lee keep taking American rights and we keep voting them into office.   Jackson Lee is a total joke but the sad part is Americans are allowing this to happen.

# April 19, 2012 9:43 AM

DonG said:

BIG BROTHER is here, alive and chomping at the bit.

TSA: Totalitarian Swat Army of the Imperial Commander in Chief

METRO needs big brother to pay for the rail lines so they will assist in these raids on average commuters lives.

As for catching a real terrorist, none of them even have a chance in Hades. Average people, even those committing minor illegal acts, stand a far better chance of knowing when something bad is going to happen.

Started out the employees were simply "employees" to check passengers. Now they have the title of "Officer" Scary.

It was bad enough when HPD let Metro start their own police force.

As for Lee? persona non grata.

# April 19, 2012 5:27 PM

Mary Sit said:

CORRECTION: Although random bag checks were suggested at a planning meeting and mentioned in the press release, Chief Rodriguez decided before the operation to not employ this strategy.

“We will only conduct bag checks based on probable cause/consent in our operations, until further notice,” said Rodriguez.

Also, please note that the felony arrests mentioned earlier on this post came from preliminary information gathered immediately after the operation.

# April 20, 2012 12:49 PM

Mark Benentt said:

Teke,

The METRO board meeting is 4/26 at 9am at 1900 Main Street. Call 713-739-4834 at least 48 hours beforehand if you want to speak; otherwise just show your face in protest.

Mary,

So now you're saying that there were no random bag checks, and (by implication—I know this to be true) that there were not eight felony arrests made.

Tell me: why should your readers believe anything you say?

# April 20, 2012 2:35 PM

Mike Little said:

From the Texas Constitution...

Sec. 9. SEARCHES AND SEIZURES. The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from all unreasonable seizures or searches, and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.

Sec. 2. INHERENT POLITICAL POWER; REPUBLICAN FORM OF GOVERNMENT. All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.

Sec. 23. RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS. Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.

# April 20, 2012 5:42 PM

jonathan said:

I'm shocked and in total disgust! We are rapidly becoming a police state.. TSA agents are not licensed and are not officers... They should not be allowed to wear their uniforms.... SS Troopers instead....

# April 20, 2012 6:57 PM

Assault On Civil Liberties said:

The TSA is a branch of homeland security.  Remember that Gestapo translates to "state security".  This is the beginning of Nazi Germany round 2.

# April 21, 2012 7:16 AM

JC said:

Kids, I really got no choice.  I'm an intermodal rider - bike and bus - because I lost my TDL because of blindness.  (I'm better now, thanks to modern medicine, but I had to sell the truck to cover bills, and cannot afford a 300 beater and the $100 per month for insurance &c, not to mention gas...).

The TSA is not a law enforcement agency, but rather a sooper-snooper set up ad hoc as a bad solution to a really non-existent problem.

That Metro is BRAGGING about this co-option is beyond sad.

# April 21, 2012 10:36 AM

LB. said:

Thanks, Sheila.

Police state tactics are a good enough reason for me to avoid the bus from now on.

Thanks also for kicking that pesky Bill of Rights to the curb. It was unwieldy and hard to memorize anyway. Totalitarianism in the name of the war on terror.....drugs... place government invented boogey here...coming to a city near you.  

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~ Ben Franklin.

# April 21, 2012 4:54 PM

Masmanz said:

I always thought of Sheila Jackson Lee to be a good smart person, but her support of these police-state tactics has made me change my views. No Ms. Lee the old lady walking with a cane would not like to be searched by the police.

# April 21, 2012 10:35 PM

andrews said:

A strange definition of success: at least 15 officers, spending at least a working day, to bust a few people committing mostly victimless crimes.

Over an officer-day per arrest, for things like possession of marijuana.  Someone out there in Texas has been standing in the sun too long.

Next time, just pull up a list of unexecuted warrents, make a couple of house calls, and increase your productivity.  Or go lie on the beach; it won't be much less productive.

# April 22, 2012 11:01 AM

Old Grouch said:

“We will only conduct bag checks based on probable cause/consent in our operations, until further notice,”

Translation:

TSA:  "We'd like to search your bag."

Victim:  "No."

TSA:  "Sorry, saying 'no' is probable cause.  Now gimme the bag."

# April 23, 2012 12:57 PM

Not a Nazi said:

You Houston people that allowed and participated are, a disgrace to Texas, and Liberty. I will never ride a Bus, take a train or fly in an airplane in America again. Patiently waiting for you...to start interfering with us Texans on the roads and highways and see if people then resist and send you packin' back to washington. Kind of inspired now to purchase some pre-paid legal and see if a person can make some money in litigation in the future.

# April 23, 2012 12:58 PM

USA Dave said:

It will be interesting if a TSA agent should approach me in a public place and try to search my bag. Once I tell him/her to get...away from me, it will be "Game ON!".

# April 23, 2012 1:48 PM

Belinda Priest said:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 4th amendment to the US Constitution.  This was a clear violation.

# April 23, 2012 2:02 PM

James said:

 This is a violation plan and simple. Id say Start up a big fat lawsuit and sue the police dept and or TSA or any other oganization that helped along with the bus line. THEN after you get our tax payers money Recycle some of that money and SUE them individually acting outside of law allows them to be sued do to not following their duties. I dont remember the laws since im not a lawyer but know its there and Mr Bennett should know. I think they used it when deputies would get notice that someone was getting out of jail and they would wait for them and hang them after they got let out of jail in the 60's. These people are acting on their own capacity if they plan to violate your rights regardless if they have a uniform on. So lawyers please do your thing for our rights.

# April 23, 2012 3:37 PM

Winston Smith said:

The United States is well on the way to becoming the full blown police state our elite banker masters know it can be.  Time for the general public to wake up to what we are facing.

# April 23, 2012 8:34 PM

Rolando said:

Critics are a dime a dozen --until they need that officer.  

# April 24, 2012 11:22 AM

J. Liggins said:

Hold on hold on hold on......wait a second.  Let me get this straight; Metro police actually arresting people on the Metro bus who committed crimes, and you all are UPSET about that?  Normally, your "type" would be happy that "Metro" types were being hauled off to jail.  I guess it's that darned TSA that has you all riled up.  

# April 24, 2012 11:40 AM

Mike Little said:

42 U.S.C. § 1983 : US Code - Section 1983: Civil action for deprivation of rights

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

# April 27, 2012 9:29 AM
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