TAMPA, FL -- It's the sort of security we've seen a lot of since 9-11 at places like airports and seaports and major sporting events. Bomb sniffing dogs, pat-downs and metal detector wanding, gloved inspections of hand-held bags were all performed in the shadow of...Greyhound buses.
"We do this for a couple of reasons," stated Transportation Security Administration Federal Security Director Gary Milano. "To sort of invent the wheel in advance -- in case we have to if there is any specific intelligence requiring us to be here. This was to show that we and our partners are ready to move in at a moments notice."
Milano was joined at the bus station by Border Patrol agent Steve McDonald. "What we're looking for is threats to national security as well as immigration law violators," he said.
"We're also looking at one of our main initiatives," according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Michael Masto. "One of which is cash smuggling."
And so passengers ready to head toward Orlando, Jacksonville and points north had to go through a series of checks...a K-9 officer from the Tampa Airport Police department gave the bus his special "sniff test" in the baggage compartment. This is all a part of VIPR, which stands for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response.
"This is ongoing for us," said Tampa Police Department Assistant Chief Marc Hamlin. "We do this every day."
And for the folks who travel like this -- day in and day out -- it's a comfort in these troubled times.
"I feel safe knowing that I can get on the bus and I'm not going to blow up," said frequent rider Chuck Lawrence.
"That's why we'll be back," said the TSA's Milano. "We won't say when, but this way, the bad guys are on notice that we will be back."