to and from Ocracoke on Wednesday might have seen a contingent of
black-shirted Transportation Security Administration people at the
Hatteras and Ocracoke ferry docks.
The team of officers, mostly based in Raleigh,
was here at the invitation of the N.C. Ferry Division to join in the
annual security exercise at the ferry terminals, said Clint Stone,
assistant federal security director for law enforcement in the eastern
North Carolina region.
Included in the group, called Visible Intermodal
Prevention and Response (VIPR) team, were federal air marshals,
behavior detection officers and other explosives specialists.
These exercises are chiefly to detect unusual
behavior and explosives, said Sari Koshetz, the public affairs manager
who accompanied them.
For the exercise, the team walked along the line
of waiting cars and greeted the occupants while Ralph Ackers, a
transportation security inspector, walked his canine officer Gero, who
sniffed around each vehicle.
“Gero is trained to detect 'innumerable' substances—any one of which could be part of an explosive,” Koshetz
Gero, who is nine years old, does not jump or bark when alerted.
“If Gero sits, that means he’s detected
something,” she continued as Ackers and Gero walked around every
vehicle. “Because you don’t want to disrupt an explosive. You want a
The two behavior detection officers were there to observe peoples’ reactions.
“We know that there’s a lot of stress people have
when traveling,” Koshetz said. “These officers are looking for stress
levels that rise above that threshold and would be indicative of fear
While many travelers see TSA personnel mostly at
airports, TSA officers also are located in all places where there is
public transportation—on land, air and sea.
“We’re in any type of transportation domain,” Stone said.
As of midday, all was well at the ferry terminals.
“Most of the public is glad to see us,” Stone said.
According to official information supplied by
Stone, the program has been implemented at various transportation modes
and facilities across the nation in the last few years.
This exercise was not planned as a response to
any current threat or specific security concerns, but is intended to
promote preparedness and cooperation between law enforcement agencies
For more information about the TSA, visit tsa.gov.
(This article is reprinted with permission from the Ocracoke Observer. For more news and features about Ocracoke, go to www.ocracokeobserver.com.)