A counter terrorism team, dedicated to protecting transit passengers and the public, was launched in a joint effort of Calif.-based Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
The Transit Police Services Counter Terrorism Team will be highly visible and easily recognizable for rail and bus passengers and will serve as a deterrent to those who would seek to harm the public, according to officials.
This team is being launched through a $122,000 federal grant and will further the Homeland Security mission in Orange County.
The Counter Terrorism Team will employ proactive enforcement actions in a random and unpredictable pattern. The team also will be deployed during special events, events of national significance and elevated threat levels. Among others, the team's tactics will include:
- Random visual searches of public areas at train stations and transit centers.
- Highly visible foot patrols on train platforms and at transit centers.
- Boarding of both buses and trains.
- Foot patrol of railroad rights of way.
- Operations in conjunction with covert team activities.
Each member of the team has been trained as a Terrorism Liaison Officer. These officers have the means and training to stay up to the minute on the latest terrorism threats and intelligence. They know how to shift their routine at a moment's notice to take protective action against a terrorist threat.
The Counter Terrorism Team is one weapon in the arsenal that the Sheriff's Department and OCTA are utilizing to ensure the safety and security of transit passengers. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded OCTA $487,000 through the Transit Security Grant Program to support additional transit security patrols and conduct Visible Intermodal Protection and Response and Anti-Terrorism Anti-Crime Teams.
The added patrols will be provided over the next three years, independent of normal Transit Police Services staffing and the Counter Terrorism Team, and will operate in coordination with other law enforcement agencies throughout Orange County. The funds awarded to OCTA do not require a local match contribution.