first_imgArmed, undercover federal air marshals have been deployed to Metrolink trains and stations as part of a trial program to use officers on ground transportation systems, officials said Wednesday. The TSA air marshals, K-9 crews and inspectors who are part of the Department of Homeland Security are being stationed at six cities across the nation to familiarize officers with local transit operations in the event of a terrorist threat or attack. “Should a crisis occur, we want to be able to deploy resources in a timely manner,” said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Nico Melendez. Melendez stressed there is no known security threat to Los Angeles and that the teams are being deployed merely as a test. She said this is the world we live in as a country at war, but added that a modest security enhancement should suffice. “Let’s not overdo it … because that puts fear in people,” she said. Teams of fewer than 10 people in each community are being deployed to train, bus and ferry systems in Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia and Baltimore. In Los Angeles, there are two undercover officers, as well as inspectors and K-9 units, deployed. The teams are expected to be deployed for three days between Tuesday and Sunday. Additionally, Los Angeles will be getting as many as six explosive-sniffing dogs through a separate TSA program to add canine teams to transportation systems nationwide. Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Cmdr. Dan Finkelstein, who oversees Metrolink and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, welcomed the extra “eyes and ears” of the TSA marshals who have been working with his officers. “TSA has long been known for their role in airport security. They’re now branching out to surface transportation – buses and trains,” he said. “They’ve been just an extension of our staff and Sheriff’s Transit Services all along.” Burbank resident Paul Barrows, who rode Metrolink into downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, questioned whether guarding the commuter rail line was the best use of resources. “I don’t have a problem with it. … I don’t think there’s a threat,” he said. But LaTonya Jones of Van Nuys, who rode Metrolink with her mother to a doctor’s appointment downtown, welcomed the extra protection, so long as officers act carefully. “I really think it’s a good idea; they can keep more (in touch with) what’s going on. … I do think they should be cautious or careful,” she said. Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake He could not say if TSA had plans to permanently staff air marshals on Los Angeles-area trains. “This is basically preparedness training,” said Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell. “It’s to drill so we can see how quickly we can deploy these assets in an emergency.” Riders mostly welcomed the enhanced security even after a U.S. citizen was shot and killed last week during a confrontation with air marshals after the man claimed he had a bomb at the Miami airport. It was the first shooting by an air marshal since the program was expanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to reports. “It’s OK with me,” said Metrolink rider Elsa Belvel, a retiree at Union Station waiting for her train back to Palmdale. last_img read more