Last Friday 15 TSA agents joined officers of the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the METRO Police Department, and the Precinct Seven Constable's Office in "a synchronized, counter-terrorism exercise that focused on bus stops and shelters and transit centers." (Write On Metro, Multi-Agency Sting Operation on Rail & Bus Successful, h/t @frankbynum.)
No actual terrorists were found in this exercise, in which officers "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," but the glut of officers made "quality" arrests, including eight felony arrests.
The TSA agents were from TSA's VIPR (the METRO blog renders it "viper"), or Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams.
VIPR teams are the next step in screwing up America's transportation system. They have been seen violating passengers' rights at train stations, as in Savannah (Amy Alkon, Advice Goddess Blog, Is Being a Moron a Requirement for a Government Job?); bus stops follow logically, and then highway checkpoints and truck stops, until the goal is achieved of making it impossible for Americans to move freely about their country.
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.
I don't think I'm going to like this new era very much.
(On the bright side, it gives me an issue that I'm willing to go to jail over.)