Police start random searches of CTA rider bags

Police random searches of CTA passenger bags at some of 145 CTA rail stations began Monday — part of a new police counter-terrorism effort.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has endorsed the searches, saying the “world is different” and New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. were doing explosives searches on their transportation systems.

However, Police News Affairs officials didn’t have much news about the new effort Monday morning.

A spokeswoman for Police News Affairs declined to reveal what stations had been targeted Monday morning, saying “It’s going to be random. We are not disclosing locations because it would be counterproductive to our crime prevention and counterterrorism efforts.”

The spokeswoman did not know if anyone had been arrested yet, or if any passengers had refused to be searched, which means, under new search rules, they would be denied admission to ride CTA trains at the search location.

Earlier it the morning, CTA media relations — which put out the initial joint news release about the “new counterterrorism effort” — referred questions about it to Police News Affairs.

Officials previously have said two “mobile explosives screening teams” would be conducting the random searches. The searches are supposed to take less than a minute each and involve swabbing bags with sticks capable of detecting explosive material.

Critics have said would-terrorists who spot the search teams could merely move on to another station.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has said the agency will be closely monitoring the effort to see if searches are truly random.

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