Bus and rail passengers in Orange County will see a stepped-up law-enforcement presence as part of an expanded anti-terrorism effort.
The Sheriff's Department and Orange County Transportation Authority have launched the Transit Police Services Counter Terrorism Team, which "will be highly visible and easily recognizable for rail and bus passengers and will serve as a deterrent to those who would seek to harm the public," according to the OCTA.
The team is being launched through a $122,000 federal grant.
“Mass Transit Bureau personnel of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will remain vigilant and embrace this new role to enhance the overall security of the Orange County Transportation Authority, its services and related facilities,” said Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.
The team will use enforcement options in a random way, according to an OCTA press release, and will be deployed during special events and during elevated threat levels.
Its tactics will include:
- Random visual searches of public areas at train stations and transit centers.
- Highly visible foot patrols on train platforms and at transit centers.
- Boarding of both buses and trains.
- Foot patrol of railroad rights of way.
- Operations in conjunction with covert-team activities.
The Counter Terrorism Team is not the only anti-terrorism effort of the Sheriff’s Department and OCTA. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently awarded OCTA $487,000 through the Transit Security Grant Program to support additional transit security patrols and conduct "visible intermodal protection and response teams" and anti-terrorism, anti-crime teams.
The added patrols will be provided during the next three years, independent of normal Transit Police Services staffing and the Counter Terrorism Team, and will operate in coordination with other law enforcement agencies throughout Orange County, the OCTA said. The funds awarded to OCTA do not require a local matching contribution.
In the last five years, more than $26 million in grant funding has gone toward implementing Homeland Security measures, including:
- Security cameras on buses and at rail stations.
- Patrols, personnel, exercises and training.
- Emergency plans and assessments.
- Implementing physical security measures at transit bases and facilities.