CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today designated more than $1 million in homeland security funding to the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and St. Louis area Metro East transit districts to help pay for added security costs associated with this week’s national threat level being raised from code “Yellow”, (elevated), to code “Orange,” (high), for the mass transit portion of the transportation sector. The Federal Department of Homeland Security raised the nation’s threat level for mass transit systems after terrorists struck London’s mass transit system. The elevated alert applies to regional and inner city passenger rail, subways and metropolitan bus systems.
“There is nothing more important than making sure the people of our state are safe. After the cowardly acts of terrorism in London on Thursday, law enforcement and security efforts intensified on our buses, trains and at stations,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We stood by ready to help the transit authorities during these times of heightened alert and the $1 million we provide will help pay the cost of keeping all of us safe.”
Beginning Thursday morning, following the attacks on trains and a bus in London, uniformed police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs in the Chicago and the Metro East area patrolled trains, buses and stations looking for suspicious activity. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Illinois developed a detailed security plan to respond to times of heightened alert or crisis. After the Madrid bombings in 2004, the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra modified the transit plans, in cooperation with state and federal homeland security officials.
“After last year’s bombings in Madrid, transit security in Illinois has been upgraded,” said Mike Chamness, Chairman of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. “This decision by the governor to dedicate some of our homeland security funding helps transit authorities to implement those plans and provides further security to those who travel in and through Illinois.”
The funding for the assistance, which could total more than $1 million, will come from federal homeland security funds allocated to the state. The Governor asked the Illinois Terrorism Task Force to allocate the money to reimburse the transit authorities for extraordinary expenses associated to the increased security needed to ensure the safety of travelers in Illinois.
Most of the award money will be used for overtime pay for police officers needed for the added security, as well as other expenditures above and beyond their routine activities; these may include bomb-sniffing dogs, increased video surveillance, intrusion detection equipment, and increased inspection of trash receptacles and storage areas and other extraordinary security measures.