Undercover air marshals and uniformed law enforcement officers will go to bus and train stations, ferries, and mass transit facilities across the nation this week in a test program to conduct surveillance and “counter potential criminal terrorist activity in all modes of transportation,” reports the Washington Post. Internal Transportation Security Administration documents say the program calls for “Visible Intermodal Protection and Response” teams — called “Viper” teams — to take positions in public areas along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and Los Angeles rail lines; ferries in Washington state; and mass transit systems in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Viper teams will also patrol the Washington Metro subway system.
A Viper team consists of two air marshals, one TSA bomb-sniffing-canine team, one or two transportation security inspectors, one local law enforcement officer, and one other TSA employee. Some members of the team will be obvious to the traveling public and wear jackets bearing the TSA name. Others will be plainclothes air marshals scanning the crowds for suspicious people. scissors and tools, in carry-on luggage. The TSA will expand training for a limited group of screeners at airports in Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, Cincinnati, New York, Houston, Detroit, and Chicago. Techniques include taking notice of high levels of stress, anxiety, or deception.