Wednesday, July 27, 2005

New York City Subway Search Guide

Archie wrote me the other day suggesting that we go to NYC where we have a reported 1 in 5 chance of being frisked down by a real cop. It was a reference to a time long ago when, on the way to a restaurant for breakfast, we passed a rather good looking, young policeman who was directing traffic in our neighborhood. On the way back, I grabbed a ten dollar bill out of Archie's wallet, leaned out of the window and yelled, "Hey Mr. Policeman! Want to earn some overtime pay?" Archie exclaimed, "Oh my God, Oh My God. Richard, get back in the cab before you get us arrested." The officer stared at us slack jawed, which I pointed out to Archie might be construed as a "Yes". We laughed and laughed as we went our way back home.

The email from Archie reminded me of this fond story, which I haven't told in years. I shared it with Matt in the office, but while he appreciated the tale, he asked me how old I was (mid 20s) and then just stared at me as if something wasn't computing in his brain. Shawn gave me more satisfaction when I told the story to her as she laughed and has come to expect such things from me.

Still, there is a serious issue to be addressed with the reaction some cities are having to the London Bombings. Um, folks, such searches aren't likely to prevent terrorist attacks. The terrorists have infinite targets and many delivery methods. In short, they have the advantage. You can never know where they will target and you cannot protect every site. Terrorists, on the other paw, know exactly what they're targets are and can take the time to plan it out just so.

This isn't to say that we should be scared and hide and nothing should be done. Rather, we should use our resources wisely and target those resources to where they'll be the most effective. We should concentrate on investigating, infiltrating, and prosecuting the terrorists. We should next concentrate on our emergency response preparedness for terrorist attacks. We should not curb our liberties or waste our energy on efforts that will reveal little, if any, results.

In short, if we target our resources to say, frisking people entering subway stations, a well prepared terrorist will just switch targets to say, a concert. If we focus on cell phones as being the trigger of the bombs, then the well prepared terrorist will just switch to another triggering device. This sort of targeting is chasing our tails and to what end? We don't want to allow cell phone usage on airplanes or in subways (although, in both cases, they proved useful to the "good people")? We want to invade the privacy of 20% of individuals who have committed no crime and have provided no cause for the search (thus tossing aside the Constitution)?

For those who want to travel the NYC subway and not submit to a search, here's a website reminding you of your rights. Read it. Use it - or not, but be aware of what your rights are and remember, these policies aren't helping, but they are eroding your democracy.

2 comments:

Matt said...

Thanks for the link to the Guide...

B.D. said...

No problem. It's a great service that you have provided. You should be commended and given a citizen of the year award or something like it.