Chicago Transit Cops Start Up Their Own Security Theater, Will Start Randomly Swabbing Bags For Explosive Residue
from the what-can-we-do-that-would-be-WORSE-than-nothing,-CTA-asked dept
It appears Chicago wants to get in on New York City’s racket — steamrolling civil liberties because of a supposed terrorism nexus. For New York City, it’s been every day since Sept. 11th, 2001, greatly aided and abetted by a nanny statist mayor and a police commissioner who’d never seen a personal freedom he didn’t immediately dislike.
For Chicago, the terrorism connection isn’t nearly as clear. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any justification for the deployment of random explosive-residue-swabbing checkpoints at public transit stations.
There is “no known terrorist threat” that prompted the new procedure slated to begin the week of Nov. 3, Nancy Lipman, Chicago police commander for public transportation, said Friday at a news conference announcing the initiative.
OK… With that, um, cleared up, here’s how the TSA-Lite random acts of intrusion will go down.
Chicago police say they will randomly select one rail station each day to set up the screening table outside the rail turnstiles during rush hour. Lipman said most of the stations will be downtown but other stops will be included as well.
A team of four to five officers will man the table, which will have two explosives testing machines.
One rail station… out of dozens… selected randomly… with each search also being randomly generated.
Police will approach riders, whom they have randomly selected by picking a random number that morning, Lipman said.
For example, if police pick the number 10, they will ask the 10th person who enters the station, then the 20th and so on, Lipman said.
This randomly-selected person — if carrying a bag — will be asked to submit to an explosive residue test. The bag will not be opened. Unless it tests positive, in which case further impositions will be imposed.
A positive test triggers a search request. Commuters can refuse but they won’t be allowed to board their train and will be asked to leave the station. Almost “free to go,” but not quite. Chicago transit cops will be free to perform less voluntary searches should they decide “probable cause” exists to do so. Given that a bag has just tested positive for explosives, that should be all the justification they need.
Police spokesman Marty Maloney calls this random act of security theater a “proactive, protective measure.” Nearly everyone else, if given a few minutes to think about it, will call it “futile.” Or “stupid.”
The multiple layers of randomness are essential to preventing charges of discrimination or other civil liberties violations. (This is what makes DUI checkpoints and the TSA’s “enhanced screening” Constitutional — you either have to stop everybody or be truly random.) But this precaution also undermines the effectiveness of the effort. In fact, everything about this program borders on uselessness.
Anyone can refuse the initial test. They can also refuse to have their bags searched if they do test positive for explosive residue. Both actions will likely be viewed with suspicion but neither leads directly to detainment.
The city boasts more than 140 entry points, just for this mode of public transportation. Anyone who would rather avoid the “random checkpoint” will have plenty of options. The program checks a random entry for random people, rather than making any attempt to truly spot suspicious individuals or behavior. The Transit Authority takes great care to explain just how painless the process will be, what with limited checkpoints and no mandatory searches, but these words of comfort only highlight the fact that the screening system is almost entirely composed of security holes. The chances that this will actually prevent an attack are so close to zero as to be completely indistinguishable from doing nothing.
In exchange for its half-assed efforts, the city will likely net itself a few additional lawsuits, thanks to that inevitable byproduct of poorly-thought-out and poorly-implemented security theater programs: civil liberties’ violations.
Filed Under: chicago, privacy, random searches, security theater, terrorism, tsa
Comments on “Chicago Transit Cops Start Up Their Own Security Theater, Will Start Randomly Swabbing Bags For Explosive Residue”
Commuters can refuse but they won’t be allowed to board their train and will be asked to leave the station.
If I was in such situation I’d simply walk to the next station and board there. Great security, no?
Good thing the Government is investing our hard earned money in things that really worth it!
Seems that this measure is designed to produce the maximum hostility, and give the terrorists…errr…police an excuse to shoot up a station.
Just wait a few minutes and come back. Do you think the cop is going to remember your face after 100 other people pass by him?
They just want the presence, excuse, and threat of a possible search hanging over people’s heads. And of course they will find reasons to “notice” other things – pot, or a half bottle of shampoo, or whatever.
Countdown to them having a cow over the inevitable Checkpoint Swabbie phone apps.
Great thing the Eavesdropping Act has been declared unconstitutional recently, now all the cop watchers can film this and catch any misconduct on camera! Too bad DAs and the courts worship cops and will exonerate them.
and the filmers can set up a table next to the scan one and film all day
This won't end well
Keep in mind that this is a police force which ran a torture ring for years and continues to pay the guy convicted of organizing it: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-jon-burge-prison-release-met-20141002-story.html
So anyone refusing is likely to be arrested, detained, beaten, and yes, tortured.
Incidentally, I’m familiar with Chicago’s transit system, as I’ve ridden various portions of it off-and-on for decades. Anyone who makes even a cursory analysis of its security vulnerabilities will quickly conclude that it’s indefensible against any adversary with the tiniest clue. Which isn’t surprising: it wasn’t designed to be defensible. So while these idiots are busy harassing commuters (and not coincidentally, training them to give up their Constitutional rights), actual real live threats — like muggers, who frequent the El — can look forward to enhanced opportunities to “ply their trade”.
Re: This won't end well
Maybe they can set up a checkpoint on the South Side…If You Know What I Mean!
Re: This won't end well
Gotta love the fact that Illinois has a statute of limitations on torture, but not on forgery.
So you go from no threat and lousy police reputation in the city to a thread of the local thugs known as police searching you. Of course while you can refuse the search, how far do you think you’ll get before another cop wants to see what you’re carrying?
Mission creep will have nudie scanners next and since they’ve put so much money into the program, they’ll have a problem with anyone that refuses to pass through.
Remind me to never take the subway in Chicago. That’s another experience I can do without.
Long run you might want to think about emigrating
Just say no.
They'll have an app for that (soon)
How long before someone creates a smartphone app that allows people to post where the security point is when it gets set up, thus allowing people to neatly avoid it?
Re: They'll have an app for that (soon)
They have. Twitter.
So they have drawn up a process that is entirely ineffective against the people they claim they are trying to stop but will be a pain in the ass for many of the people they are trying to “protect”.
Did EA help draft this?
My money’s on ALEC.
>The bag will not be opened. This is not very invasive compared to what NYC officials announced back in September which barely any press coverage.
>They announced what they call a new, unprecedented level of law enforcement at subway commuter and Amtrak train platforms and more random searches of baggage.
>“Commuters, citizens will see an increased presence,” Cuomo said. “That shouldn’t raise anxiety. If anything, that should provide a calming effect.”
1 station ?
So if a terrorist wanted to blow something up, all they have to do to guarantee getting an explosive to it, is to send 2 bombs thru via 2 different train stations? Even if 1 does get caught, the other is going to make it thru.
More stupidity from our nations finest. They must have gotten a grant they need to spend.
Re: 1 station ?
Not even that. Just needed one. Bomber turns up at station, sees police presence and so walks to the next station. If he wants to he can then get a train back to the first station.
What utter nonsense.
Re: Re: 1 station ?
Not even that.
Bomber turns up at station, sees police presence and large queue. Detonates bomb in queue – many casualties – including policemen.
Re: Re: Re: 1 station ?
Bomber plants bomb at station, and waits until the day that police happen to pick that one. Watches social media for messages indicating that they’re on-site and detonates it remotely.
I think the point we’re all making that — as a security tactic — this is WORSE than nothing. It’s so profoundly stupid that it has failed to survive 30 seconds of casual analysis from observers. No doubt someone who invested an entire day studying this could generate a catalog of failure long enough to occupy multiple pages.
Therefore we are left with two possible conclusions:
1. The Chicago police do not know that this is truly stupid. In that case, they are incompetent and those responsible for this fiasco should be publicly identified, publicly fired, and publicly blacklisted from police service for life: after all, we the public should not be paying people who lack baseline competence in their field.
2. The Chicago police do know that this is truly stupid. In that case, they are knowingly engaged in security theater in order to harass, intimidate, abuse, and frighten the very people that they are sworn to serve and protect. Once again, the people responsible should be publicly identified, publicly fired, and publicly blacklisted from police for life, as those who cannot fulfill their sworn obligations are unworthy to serve.
Re: Re: Re:2 1 station ?
And why not, the police have been shown they are given a free reign to murder, intimidate, brutalize and do whatever they want. Maybe the odd cop out of hundred gets fined but for the most part they get away with their crimes because of the asinine belief “cops are infalliable”
Re: Re: Re:2 1 station ?
or a third possibility:
they got some free money/equipment to do this kind of shit, so they are doing this kind of shit to keep the free money/equipment flowing…
remember, ALL bureaucrats ALWAYS spend ALL their budget EVEN IF NOT NEEDED, to justify the increase for next year’s budget…
Re: Re: Re: 1 station ?
From a terrorists perspective, that would do the most damage in the long run. After an incident like that, politicians would insist that they need more screening stations, further reducing civil liberties.
Re: Re: Re: 1 station ?
Or just drops a package in the trash can and walks away.
Because unlike the UK during the IRA “troubles”, in which authorities made a meticulous effort to relocate all trash containers away from crowded places like queues at train stations and airports, in the US there always seems to be a big trash can smack dab in the middle of the most crowded places.
As such extreme levels of idiocy can’t be accidental, it’s probable that the private security consults hired to “keep everyone safe” are intentionally leaving conspicuous chinks-in-the-armour while hoping for the next big terrorist attack, knowing that it will bring in more lucrative no-bid contracts for them to profit from.
This is simply terrorizing.
There is “no known terrorist threat”
– This is very similar to starting the sentence with:
I’m not a scientist, but …
“Police will approach riders, whom they have randomly selected “
– Yeah, and this will not be based upon race.
“The multiple layers of randomness are essential to preventing charges of discrimination or other civil liberties violations.”
Err – wut? … lol, what a bunch of idiots.
Many people choose cyber or alternate means of transportation instead of Chicago transit , city loses millions of revenue dollars. Chicago the next Detroit.
Do the math
Aside from obvious guaranteed ways to not get caught (e.g. Anonymous Coward’s 2-station approach), just do the math:
There are 1.7M riders per day, and 145 Stations (from http://www.transitchicago.com/about/facts.aspx).
Suppose they pick 10% of the people at random. That means they are selecting 10% * 0.69% = 0.069% of the people. So there’s a 99.931% chance of not being selected. If there is one terrorist out of 1.7M *every day*, it will take 1005 days (2.75 years) of random testing before it even becomes more likely than not that the terrorist is caught. It would take 4343 days before you have a 95% chance of catching the terrorist on just one of those days.
This isn’t about security. It’s about allowing your PR team to *say* you are taking a “proactive, protective measure” without *actually* lying while saying it.
Re: Do the math
And assuming a success rate of 99.9% for the swabbing test, during that period, over 1000 innocent people will have been falsely identified as terrorists (base rate fallacy).
Re: Re: Do the math
Especially as any gun owner is likely to give positive results, especially if they take their bag to a firing range.
It is only a matter of time before any kind of travel anywhere will require stopping at checkpoints for security checks.
It will happen.
Re: Remember this
Remember kids, American Exceptionalism and all that stuff.
Re: Re: Remember this
Because communists, terrorists, and pedophiles and stuff.
Re: Remember this
…travel anywhere will require stopping at checkpoints…
Toll roads? Already have those in some places; many existed before 9/11.
Agriculture Inspection Stations? Already have those in some places; many existed before 9/11.
Commercial Vehicle Inspection/Weigh Stations? Already have those; many existed before 9/11.
Border Patrol Checkpoints (miles away from the border)? Already have those; many existed before 9/11.
Airport Security Screening? Existed before 9/11; got worse after.
Security Screening to enter government buildings? Existed before 9/11.
In my above examples only one does not require everybody to stop.
Now if we’re talking about having to stop more often…
More like random compliance with authority checks.
This is just to get people used to the idea that you do whatever someone in a uniform tells you. Anyone with something to hide won’t go anywhere near one of these checkpoints, so the only thing ferreted out will be people who believe they have the right to travel unmolested in their own country. Who will probably be taught a ‘lesson’ about asserting their rights.
Re: More like random compliance with authority checks.
The TSA conditioning americans to do whatever the hell they are told is a great example of this
They may use sniffer dogs in an attempt to find explosives. But since these sniffer dogs will also be trained to find drugs … yeah, you got it!
Just like all those INS highway checkpoints near the Mexican border, that were supposed to be set up to find illegal aliens. Since immigrant smugglers have for years completely avoided these checkpoints, they’ve been turned into drug and cash searches on surprised American travellers.
I strongly suspect that the random “every 10th” will suspiciously change to another “random” number based on who the cops see standing further down the line.
When a commuter misses their train making them late for work or doctors appointment who absorbs the cost, I eagerly wait for folks to start charging for time lost due to these stop and swab tactics.
So, occasionally they’ll “randomly” pick “1” or “2”. Then it will be:
When did “detention” become “detainment”?
“This randomly-selected person — if carrying a bag — will be asked to submit to an explosive residue test. The bag will not be opened.”
Ok, well since I am being asked I can politely decline this intrusion to my day.
until your told your being arrested for interfering with police administrative duties.
ie interfering with the work of police.
So, the bad guys send 1 scout ahead and take note of the pattern, then communicate to the next where to be to avoid. Security through obscurity!
Or this is just to get the foot in the door, once the screening process is up and running for a couple of months, the “randomness” and “right to refuse” part of the program will be phased out..
1000 undercover protesters/plain clothing of course show up to inundate every check point, go thru the line then jump to the back, repeat until the system fails or is so slow the trains are left empty.
Just throw a handful of fertilizer dust into the air upwind of the boarding area.
Re: Re: Re:
Not just fertilizer. Those swabs are testing for nitrates. Many common things will cause a positive test, including anything that contains glycerin (glycerin soaps, many hand lotions, etc.)
“we don’t need no stinking badges” comes to mind every time I hear about people violating the oaths they took to serve and protect the public.
Are police officers even required to swear an oath anymore? They seem to be doing whatever the hell they want with no regard to citizens constitutional rights
The 4th of July will be cancelled next year in Chicago because over head fireworks dust will make it to hard for transit officers to do their jobs.
What's the randomness
So, what exactly is the randomness? Is it every 10th person or 20th? Or is the number randomly pulled out of a hat?
How long will it take for the officers on the scene to think this randomness is too much work and start pulling over every 5th or 3rd or 2nd person? Heck, why not stop everyone and be done with the whole randomizing procedure. And who cares if people get delayed in the name of security (theater)- it’s not like people are trying to get to work in rush hour.
But, like other people are saying, how long will it take for this to get out on Twitter and people start avoiding stations with checkpoints? I guess the police have done their job: if no one uses the station, then no terrorist will blow it up… or whatever it is they’re trying to protect.
That makes no fucking sense, unless its a preclude to get folks conditioned to permanant checkpoints
Were doing this for your protection, who cares if that guy over there going through that space were not checking “actually” has a bomb…….shhhhhh, thats not what this is about
So, how many BOMBS have been USED, in the last 13 years?
Can you prove any of those used the transit system? insted of just walking down the street and blowing up a 7/11 for the ATM?
HOW many transit officers is this going to take? MORE money out of your taxes?
If the CORPS dont take it, the STATE will tax you for it..
BE SAFE, dont pay attention to the idiot next to you, LET the Gov do its job, keeping you safe…
Out of the war, how many TARGETS did we have? HOW many Civilians did we kill?
Are you REALLY safe?
NOW you are forcing those carrying BOMBS to have a quick kill button on the BOMB.
But REALLY…WHERE would be a good place for a bomb?
At a marathon, ending when 90% of the people have GONE HOME?
Look at the other countries, that HAD BOMBINGS..
A Subway during NOON to RUSH HOUR would be a GREAT spot..
Why hasnt it happened already? ITS A BIG EASY TARGET.
So what happens when the ‘randomly chosen’ number is 1?
"This is what makes... the TSA's 'enhanced screening' Constitutional"
Has the TSA enhanced screening been found constitutional? IIRC, the general principle has been that minimally invasive searches can be conducted and can only be escalated if they reveal something. The “enhanced screening”, by contrast, starts with an invasive search based on nothing.
“We think the search for the sole purpose of discovering weapons and preventing air piracy, and not for the purpose of discovering weapons and precriminal events, fully justified the minimal invasion of personal privacy by magnetometer. […] When the high metal indication of the magnetometer was not satisfactorily explained by Epperson, the subsequent physical “frisk” of his jacket was entirely justifiable and reasonable under Terry.” United States of America, Appellee, v. Cecil Kenton Epperson, Appellant., 454 F.2d 769 (4th Cir. 1972)
“Police will approach riders, whom they have randomly selected by picking a random number that morning, Lipman said.
For example, if police pick the number 10, they will ask the 10th person who enters the station, then the 20th and so on, Lipman said.”
Aww, shoot. The RNG picked 1 today.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, ...
In response, I propose random acts of disobedience. If your debarcation point is the station to be “checked” that day, reach into your bag for the rotten tomatos you brought and pummel the bastards. In court, you can tell ’em it’s 1st Amendment protected speech and, “Fuck you!” On day two, they’ll all be wearing raincoats and face shields, and won’t that look hilarious on the 6:00 news?
If your station wasn’t picked, walk by city hall and pummel it. Perhaps when the steps of city hall are bleeding red with a river of rotten tomatos, they might re-think this ridiculous, worthless intrusion into the lives of those paying their salaries.
Secondly, dust your bags with a bit of nitrogen fertilizer. Overload the machines with false positives.
Can you imagine the lineups when every second person in line is to be checked? “Hello boss? I’m not going to make it into work today.”
Re: Stupid, stupid, stupid, ...
I just realized I can make a kil … er, lot of money here by setting up a vegetable stand at the entrance of all the train stations. There’s no overhead! I can get my supply of rotten tomatos at any grocer’s dumpster or any food bank.
I’ll be rich! Thanks Chicago. Ah, the land of the free, capitalism’s great!1!
decimation in its classical sense
It’s ironic that they would choose the number “10” — perhaps in subconscious tribute to the Roman practice of decimation, the execution of every tenth soldier, an ingeniously effective means of enhancing the obedience of the other 90% who were spared.
I wish I lived in Chicago! I would carry a supply of “smelling salts” (Ammonia) on me at all times. The swabs and the detection devices test for only one thing…nitrogen compounds. Since 90% of all explosives contain nitrates, ammonia would fire off a false positive every time. That might get me banned from the El for life, but watching them go bananas would be worth it.
Speaking of chilled speech. I really so wanted to bring up that old well-wish for actors and actresses, “break a leg”. I wanted to write a reply along the lines of, “Hey, ________ _______ _______ guys, break a leg.”
I find I can’t bring myself to do it…at least not with a name in the blank: There’s simply too much chance some authoritarian goon would take it as a threat; and if so, I’d find myself under investigation or arrest.
It’s sad that our authorities have so little respect for Rights that we must restrain ourselves from making even the most mundane jokes, to avoid official attention.