DHS, Amtrak partner to make train travel more secure

Friday - 7/9/2010, 9:31am EDT

Amy Kudwa, Secretary for Pubic Affairs, DHS

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By Vyomika Jairam
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

When you think of the Transportation Security Administration, you think of the nation's airports. You should also think of the nation's train stations. The Department of Homeland Security has launched a national campaign to educate and promote commuter safety called See Something/Say Something, and coincides with the Suspicious Activity Reporting initiative. DHS rolled out the first phase of the campaign with Amtrak in early July.

"The initial rollout was with our partners at Amtrak as part of a dual thing where we are not only talking more to the public about vigilance, but also training their front-line police officers, so they now how to report suspicious activity," said Amy Kudwa, assistant secretary for Pubic Affairs at DHS.

The campaign was first started by the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City as a 'neighborhood watch' shared approach between the public and law enforcement to minimize crime. In light of many attacks on mass transit systems and passenger trains internationally, DHS decided to implement See Something/Say Something nationally to prevent terrorist attacks on the nation's railways.

"It's very much a shared responsibility. If you're traveling on amtrak, if you're a regular commuter, you know what looks right, and what looks a bit out of place on your morning commute," Kudwa said. "So all we ask is that people be mindful of that, and avail themselves to the Amtrak P.D. to report that information."

Amtrak and mass transit, however, present a different set of obstacles in implementing security procedures.

"The challenge in passenger rail or mass transit, unlike airports, is people aren't going through a checkpoint," Kudwa said. "They are systems that are designed specifically to be free, open and accessible, so you have to have a different kind of security posture, and that's why we have to partner with law enforcement."

As the campaign continues, DHS will spread information through posters and even bookmarks on Amtrak trains.

"As we roll this out more broadly over the course of the next few months there's going to be a lot more guidance to passengers, as to what kinds of things are we asking you to look for, so helping educate as well as use them as a resource," Kudwa said.