Two uniformed federal officers, a Transportation Security Administration K9 team and two STA officers will be roaming the STA Plaza and park and rides throughout the county Friday from noon to 7 pm. It's all part of TSA's Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, or the TV-drama-worthy acronym VIPR.
Officers will board buses "to familiarize themselves with the number of people and the configurations of the buses," says STA spokesperson Molly Myers, but officers won't be riding or delaying any routes. The partnership between STA and TSA for these types of random operations started in 2010 when the U.S. figure skating championships were last held here, Myers says, but she won't elaborate on the goals of the operations or what TSA agents will be looking for. She also wouldn't say which park and rides the officers will visit.
TSA wouldn't confirm the Spokane operation, but in an email spokesperson Lorie Dankers says, "VIPR teams are designed to enhance security by working in mass transit, aviation, rail, maritime and other transportation modes alongside state and local law enforcement agencies during major events or as a random deterrent."
TSA has conducted thousands of the operations across the country and has come under some fire, though Myers says one of the most controversial aspects — bag checks — won't be happening in Spokane Friday.
"Hopefully [riders] take this as positive sign that security and safety our number one priority," Myers says. Her only advice? Don't pet the dogs.