New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s criticism of Gray Line employees for overreacting and causing a terror scare on a tourist bus raises questions about just what a frightened public is supposed to do, says the New York Times. A ticket agent was suspicious because five men had bought tickets in advance; they carried backpacks; and that they wore something – perhaps fanny packs – that caused bulges to appear around their waists. The New York Daily News quoted Bloomberg as saying that Gray Line erroneously told police that the men carried knapsacks.
Bloomberg told New Yorkers reporting suspicions: “Please don’t embellish what the facts are.” Said a Gray Line spokesman: “Our employees did what we want them to do. They reported suspicious activity. Hindsight is 20/20. What if there was something, and we hadn’t said anything?” In Sunday’s incident, policd told passengers to get off the bus and bring all their belongings with them. But the five men, who turned out to be British tourists, left the bus empty-handed. “That’s when the decision was made to take them aside and flex-cuff them,” said a police spokesman, referring to plastic handcuffs. “And that’s when the decision was made to have the Emergency Service Unit board the bus to determine whether they had left explosive devices behind.” “There are no easy answers to all of this,” said John Timoney, the Miami police chief who served as first deputy commissioner in New York. “The anxiety level is higher than normal. When someone calls in, the assumption is that the person calling has more information and the cops are going to respond accordingly.”