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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

STA increases city plaza security

The Spokane Transit Authority has increased security at its downtown Plaza, park-and-ride lots and transfer stations in response to a nationally issued increased terrorist threat level directed at mass transit.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security increased the level Thursday from yellow to orange after three bombings in the London subway system and one on a London bus. It covers train, subway and metropolitan bus systems only.

“We are pumping up security a little bit, and we’re asking all of our employees and riders to be especially vigilant,” said STA spokeswoman Susanna Weise.

“I wouldn’t say we’re anticipating any kind of attack, but in light of the recent events and direct threats to transit, you have to take it seriously,” Weise added.

STA employees have been instructed to keep an eye out for suspicious packages and people, to check garbage cans and blind spots like stairwells, and to watch entrances and exits, she said.

STA’s Transit Watch program has been in place since last fall.

Bus passengers can pick up leaflets on STA buses and look online for instructions about how to spot and report suspicious activity.

Passengers are urged to report the following behaviors to an STA driver or security agent:

•People talking about harming citizens in a violent attack or threatening to use a weapon, bomb or poison.

•Abandoned bags or packages.

•People entering or exiting areas where they are not allowed.

•Fire, smoke or strange smells.

•People mapping or photographing STA facilities or vehicles.

The Transit Watch program was designed with terrorism in mind, but passengers are also encouraged to keep a lookout for other problems like domestic violence and vandalism, said Weise.

Screening passengers isn’t an option for STA which has thousands of bus stops throughout the county.

Employees at the Spokane Intermodal Center, which houses the Greyhound bus and Amtrak train stations, are also aware of the raised threat level, said Dave Mandyke, acting planning director for the city of Spokane, which owns and operates the center.

“We haven’t done anything other than general awareness at this point,” said Mandyke, who added that the center already has a fair amount of security in place.

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