Management & Operations

Chicago transit, police unveil counterterrorism program

Posted on October 28, 2014

Daniel Schwen
Daniel Schwen
The Chicago Police Department and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced a counterterrorism effort being launched to further ensure security and safety on the city’s public transportation system: quick, randomized swab-tests of bags to detect possible explosive materials. A similar process is also used by many major cities in the U.S. and around the world, including the transit systems in New York and Washington, D.C., as well as Chicago’s Amtrak station.

"We're grateful to the Chicago Police Department for their continued diligent policing of our transit system and have been working with them for some time to get this process planned and launched,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “This is another proactive, preventive measure aimed at increasing levels of safety in our system."

Through the new federally-funded initiative, teams of officers will be deployed to high-traffic CTA rail stations several times a week to conduct quick, randomized tests of bags to detect possible explosive materials — similar to efforts undertaken during large events in the city.

Officers will ask randomly selected individuals if they are willing to have their bag screened, prior to paying to enter the system. If the individual declines, they will not be granted entrance to the platform.

The process, which will take less than one minute of a passenger’s time to conduct, will consist of swabbing a bag with a stick capable of detecting explosive material. The screening will take place on the spot and if the test comes back clear the individual can proceed. If the screening detects possible explosive materials, officers will ask to inspect the bag and debrief the individual.

The initiative will begin next week and initially be implemented at one station at a time with four or five officers performing the tests.

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