This morning when I walked into the train station I saw a half a dozen men in police uniforms. "Transit Police" stamped in big letters across the back. They'd set up some kind of station between the lobby and the stairs, with a big sign. Honestly, for a minute, I thought it was some sort of fundraiser or safety awareness thing.
But as I approach and read the sign it's the generic warning about heightened security concerns, blah blah, and basically we might decide to stop and search you if we feel like it, you know, for your own good.
I carry a backpack. I walked right by, they never so much as made eye contact.
Surely this isn't an uncommon scene. I know that when I get into Boston, for instance, there is a regular group of transit police, complete with dogs. But, again, I never see them really do anything proactive. I can't speak for how it is somewhere like New York, where I have to assume that security is more invasive.
My question is this : when you see that, do you actually feel more secure? Is the net value of having these guys wandering around, occasionally stopping you or just letting you go by, a good thing? Do you really think they're stopping anything? Or, alternately, do you care one way or the other? When you see such a "checkpoint" is your first thought "Oh, good, it's for my safety", or is it "Oy, what, you're gonna harass me now? Bugger off, I want to go get a seat." Or do you just not really care either way?
As I approached the table I was thinking "I don't really feel like sitting around while they search my bag for no reason." When I walked by unmolested I thought, "Well, great, so what's the point of them being there in the first place? I think I would have preferred them do something."