Police search baggage of NJ mass transit passengers

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    NEWARK-Police on Monday began searching the baggage of mass transit users in New Jersey in response to two waves of bombings in London this month. Authorities pledged the inspections would be done randomly to prevent racial and ethnic profiling, but the American Civil Liberties Union maintained the searches were unconstitutional. People who refuse to open bags are not allowed to ride NJ Transit buses and trains, or the PATH light rail to New York. Police, however, could not detain people solely for refusing, under rules announced last week by the state. NJ Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett Hackett said officers searched bags at the Trenton and Secaucus stations. ``The inspections have gone very well. We've had 100 percent cooperation from our customers,'' she said. The searches added a new level of scrutiny for hundreds of thousands of New Jersey travelers, and come four days after similar searches began on the New York subway system and two train systems, Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road. Commuters at Penn Station in Newark seemed unruffled Monday. ``I think it's the way the world is today. I think it's pretty standard going forward, unfortunately,'' said Maria Parisi, of Brielle, a fashion designer, as she waited for a train to New York. Passengers found printed notices on their seats, which noted ``the inspections will continue for an indefinite period of time.'' NJ Transit and Port Authority officers stood on a track platform by the PATH turnstiles while one officer walked by trains with a dog.