L.A. County Sheriff’s Checking Bags at Union Station

Alert reader and commenter "M" brings news that Metro has joined its partner agency Metrolink as a transit agency that randomly searches the bags of its passengers.

I’m not sure if anyone else has alerted you to this, but this morning
the sheriffs were doing bag inspections when entering the Gold Line at
Union Station. This is the first time I’ve seen this inspection happen
on the Gold Line (I know it’s happened with the Metrolink trains in the
past). Do you know if the same people that provided money for the
Metrolink train inspections are giving money for the Gold Line as well?

According to Metro staff, the searches were completed by the L.A. County Sherriff’s Office.  The sheriff’s have a security contract with Metro and have been conducting these searches since March to Keep Us Safe from Terrorists.  Staff also repeatedly mentioned that these searches are legal, which appears to be true.

When Metrolink announced it was going to begin randomly searching passengers’ belongings last summer, there was a firestorm of protest.  After the horrific crash last September, the agency came under fire for spending money Keeping Us Safe from Terrorists instead of improving rail safety.

  • Paul

    I don’t know if I feel comfortable with cops randomly asking to search my belonging and I can’t say no. I don’t even know if this type of thing is really legal and I’ll ask my lawyer girlfriend if it is. I do understand why the searches are being conducted, but some how I feel its violating my liberty. This is kind a stuff situation in my opinion.

  • I feel very uncomfortable when they have Metrolink bag checks; every time I run into one I regret not going to the nearest sex shop beforehand and loading up on as many and as large of [a certain phallic object] I can stuff in my bag. >=O

    I feel absolutely none safer that these checks exist. I’d rather they went around ticketing people for doing dumb stuff on and near train tracks.

  • Why aren’t they checking automobiles? Why aren’t taxicab passengers searched?

  • David Galvan

    Meh. This doesn’t bother me much. Same as when you get your bags looked at when going in to disneyland, magic mountain, or the airport terminals. Other than slowing you down a bit, I don’t see what major problems it would cause.

  • Erik G.

    If one wanted to create mayhem, an explosive on one of the many over-capacity LA Metro buses would do the trick, but you’ll never see bag checks at bus stops.

  • 72HW

    As a climber, I can’t wait for them to catch me with my large bag of white powder. While they debate the origin of my gymnastic chalk and what exactly that long metal tube is (bike pump), I am sure hundreds of bombs and tons of crack will slip through their fingers.

    Do they no longer trust the dogs?

    Will they search that one woman’s pull cart full of recyclables?

    How about that one guy who looks shifty, wearing a suit and carrying the Haliburton?

    So many opportunities for profiling – how will they combat this in a city where such behaviour is rampant already?

  • Bag searches never work because you can always smuggle contraband in your rectum. Until there are rectal searches on Metro I will not feel safe.

  • You can always decline a bag search, but then you have to board the train somewhere else. If you value your privacy, you’d have to walk over to the Chinatown station and board there. To my knowledge they always target high visibility locations, so it’s very unlikely you would ever see a bag check at one of the minor Metro Rail stations.

  • Juan

    I went through the turnstile today at union station using my tap. A Metro employee instructed me to do so. They had some printed out signs on the machines. I think they were testing them.

    No one asked to see in my bag.

  • Make sure to TAP before you enter the on-ramp.

  • M

    This location seems especially silly considering how close the Chinatown station is to Union Station. If I didn’t have to be at work at a certain time, I would have just walked to the next station on the principal of the matter.

    I think it’s awesome that all the other problems in our public transportation system are fixed such that this and turnstiles are where the resources are being dumped! How cool! I guess we’ve finally made it as a city! Maybe between barriers and bag checks I can manage to make my commute into an hour and a half to travel 20 miles by public transportation instead of 20 minutes by car! This will for sure convince my friends and coworkers to do the same!

  • TC

    A big point of this however is to show police visibility and presence. The same way police are all over the place at NY Penn Station.

  • Bob

    If a terrorist sees the bag check, they just go to another station and gets on a train.

    A terrorist wants a picture of Union Station or at any other public building or station, all that is need is a hidden camera or a PDA that we all use. A hobbyist with a real camera gets hassled for taking a picture.

    Yes, we are the land of the free…

  • Alek F

    Why don’t those sheriffs ride the Metro Red Line at 11:00 PM,
    and search those gang-bangers and other suspicious individuals! (who most likely carry guns and drugs with them)
    I wish sheriffs (and LAPD) would try to catch the truly bad people, and not bother the good people with those useless “random bag searches”!!

    @ Spokker – that’s a good one! And very true.
    The point is – if someone will want to smuggle something, he will always be able to!

    @ W.K.Liz – I totally agree with you! If they wanna check us, why don’t they check everyone! (oh boy… I’m afraid it’s again – anti-Transit propaganda) Or better yet, quit the idea permanently, and try to fight crime and protect the innocent ones! LA is notorious for high crime and gang activity, so – instead of wasting time on useless bag checks, police should (at least!) patrol the Red-line subway trains, especially LATE AT NIGHT, and arrest the real trouble-makers!

  • maulie

    They’ve been doing it for a year on all subways and metrolink