Objection to searches
Regarding “Undercover officers ride buses in anti-terror effort” (Page B2, Thursday), the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA), which represents more than 600 area criminal-defense lawyers, is alarmed that Metro Police Chief Victor Rodriguez invited Transportation Security Administration teams to conduct operations at Houston’s bus stops.
The TSA is known for its disrespect for and abuse of airline passengers’ civil liberties and dignity.
Metro said that agencies involved in the operations would, among other things, perform random bag checks.
Random bag checks are, except in very narrow circumstances (none of which apply to Houston bus passengers), illegal and in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
Local Metro buses are overwhelmingly used by people who don’t have cars. Bus passengers are the least affluent and the least powerful of Houston’s residents. It also bears saying that they are predominantly nonwhite.
It’s not that Chief Rodriguez is incapable of keeping Metro bus stops safe without federal help: According to him, even without TSA interference, Houston has one of the safest transit systems in the world.
So Chief Rodriguez invited an abusive federal agency into our community to perform illegal searches on the least powerful among us, and it wasn’t even necessary. We object.
Earl D. Musick, president, Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
I don’t believe I could have said it any better myself.