NYPD Joins Other Police Forces to Protect Amtrak Trains

NEW YORK -- In the latest in a series of security measures taken since the London bombing cases, the New York Police Department has teamed with other East Coast forces to beef up protection of Amtrak trains traveling between New York and Washington.

The increased security, which began Monday, involves police officers from New Jersey, Philadelphia, Maryland, Washington and other jurisdictions.

The state and local officers will help Amtrak's own police force patrol train platforms and watch for suspicious activity and packages on trains and tracks along the entire route throughout the week, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Monday.

Police have no information about a specific threat against the most heavily traveled route in the Amtrak system. However, in assessing security risks after mass transit was targeted in London, police officials were concerned that a route involving "two high profile cities" might be a target, and that the Amtrak police did not have the manpower to properly protect it, Browne said.

The police officials from the various departments and agencies gathered at NYPD headquarters last week to coordinate the effort, which will include use of bomb-sniffing dogs and police helicopters.

"It seemed to be a precaution that needed to be taken," Browne said, adding that the departments hope to cover the cost with federal funding.

Browne said police agreed their combined effort needed "to appear to be random and unpredictable in order to defeat the kind of reconnaissance that al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations are known to conduct."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that the city's counterterrorism strategy was constantly evolving.

"You'll never know which thing worked, you'll only know - if there's an attack - that we didn't do enough," the mayor said. "So we have to keep doing things, we have to keep changing our strategies."

Amtrak police, with about 350 officers nationwide, has welcomed the assistance from the 37,000-officer NYPD, the nation's largest force, and other departments.

"It's really important that we have it," said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black.

The NYPD first began doing sweeps of Amtrak trains leaving Penn Station bound for Washington, D.C., on July 14 after suicide bombers struck in London. At times, officers have boarded trains to ask riders to be vigilant about reporting any signs of trouble.

In addition to the NYPD, participating agencies include the Amtrak Police Department; Baltimore Police Department; Delaware State Police; Delaware Office of Homeland Security; Metropolitan Police Department and Metro Transit Police Department in Washington; Maryland State Police; Philadelphia Police Department; New Jersey Office of Counterterrorism; New Jersey State Police and New Jersey Transit Police.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press