Salt Lake City rail line gets security boost

Two FrontRunner train stations got dramatic security boosts when groups of about 15 law enforcement officers arrived on the platforms to observe the Wednesday morning commute.

Led by the Transportation Security Administration, the show of force was not a response to a specific threat but will become at least a monthly occurrence as TSA ramps up security on Utah trains, buses and light rail.

"Basically, we're there as a visual presence to let the train-riding public know we're taking care of our responsibility . . . not only at airports but surface transportation - buses, trains, light rail, anywhere you have passengers commuting or traveling in groups," TSA public affairs manager Dwayne Baird said.

Officers from the Federal Air Marshals, local police, the Utah Transit Authority and TSA patrolled train stations in Farmington and Layton from 6 to 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The officers, some armed and in uniform, others in plain clothes, are part of the Visual Intermodal Presence and Response, or VIPR, team. Fifteen officers went to each station.

TSA officers are trained to recognize suspicious behavior "above and beyond the normal stress of running for the train or catching the flight," Baird said.

The Farmington and Layton stops were randomly chosen. Future security patrols also will be done at randomly chosen locations and times on FrontRunner, TRAX and buses. Plain clothed TSA officers have been watching over Utah trains since two international train attacks in Madrid and London in 2004 and 2005 put them on alert, but the stronger, more visual presence is a new tactic.

The officers are looking out not only for potential bombers, but also other threats. "We're trying to prevent any kind of harm . . . from the catastrophic to the mundane," Baird said.