In the aftermath of the Madrid train bombings in March, US law enforcement once again is broadening its presence at one of the most basic levels of American life – the nation’s railways and subways. This week Massachusetts transportation officials announced they would begin to randomly inspect passengers’ bags and packages on subway and commuter trains. The searches will begin by late July, in time for the Democratic Convention.
The move comes as the federal government has begun to test passenger and baggage-screening equipment similar to those used in airports at some train stations. The new programs may help bring commuters some peace of mind. But many experts question whether a real improvement in security can be made without disrupting train travel. Others point to the difficulty of implementing random searches without unfairly targeting certain ethnic groups, undermining Americans’ civil liberties.