Drug Busts On SWC

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Pastor_Mac, Aug 31, 2019.

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  1. Aug 31, 2019 #1

    Pastor_Mac

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  2. Aug 31, 2019 #2

    Devil's Advocate

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    "Drug busts" have become a euphemism for guilty-until-proven-innocent cash grabs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
  3. Aug 31, 2019 #3

    crescent-zephyr

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    When I tried to decline a search in Chicago, Amtrak police said they would insist on having my bag run by a canine, and since a canine was not currently available that would mean my luggage would miss the train.

    They also literally asked me why I chose to travel by train rather than fly.
     
  4. Aug 31, 2019 #4

    Seaboard92

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    John Oliver did a really good expose on this actually. Civic Asset Forfeiture. If you ask me it should be criminal because it’s legalized stealing.
     
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  5. Sep 1, 2019 #5

    me_little_me

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  6. Sep 1, 2019 #6

    anumberone

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    The kickback to Amtrak is upsetting to me, Who knows how many employees are involved seeking out subjects to search. Makes you wonder if you are being spied upon the moment you get aboard, even tho your reservation has already been scrutinized.
     
  7. Sep 1, 2019 #7

    keelhauled

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    Sounds about on par with my experience in Chicago. The police officer there was the only person I have ever met who said "think of me like the TSA," and said it proudly. If I'm going to deal with that, I might as well fly, and so I shall to Chicago next weekend.
     
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  8. Sep 1, 2019 #8

    crescent-zephyr

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    The only times I get annoyed with TSA is when they assume everyone should know their constantly changing policies about laptops going in bins, etc. Other than that they’ve always been easy to deal with in my experience.

    My experience with Amtrak police however..... they love to question you as if you are a criminal when the only thing you’ve done is bought a ticket to travel by train and you are traveling alone.
     
  9. Sep 2, 2019 #9

    OldCond

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    I would like to travel the western routes, health permitting, as part of my "bucket list" in the next year or two. I'm in my mid 60's and I'll be traveling alone, as my wife doesn't care to travel by train. As a male, traveling by myself and having a sleeper compartment I imagine I'll be subject to extra scrutiny. What is the best way to handle this situation? Let them go through everything as they please? Refuse the luggage inspection unless the officer can produce a search warrant? Allow the inspection but request an Amtrak employee be present as a witness? I have nothing to hide but I wouldn't want to be hauled off of the train somewhere and be left behind while things are sorted out. They sure know how to take the enjoyment out of train travel. Thanks for any advice.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
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  10. Sep 2, 2019 #10

    pennyk

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    You may not be "profiled" if you "look like" you are in your mid-60's. I would cooperate with law enforcement.
     
  11. Sep 2, 2019 #11

    OldCond

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    Oh, I imagine I look every bit of mid 60's but just in case, I think I would ask the sleeping car attendant to be present as a witness during the luggage inspection. I think I would also get a photo or two of the officer. Thanks for the advice, I had been looking forward to a rail excursion out west but I'm not so sure now.
     
  12. Sep 2, 2019 #12

    crescent-zephyr

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    Pretty sure it’s 20-30’s that get targeted the most.

    They can’t go through your luggage unless a canine alerts the bag, or you give permission. So just plan on being in the Lounge or diner during stops... that’s what I do.

    For me.... I tried to say no to the search, was met with the whole canine you’ll have to wait for a canine may miss your train deal so I just said yes. An Amtrak employee present isn’t really going to help anything, they aren’t going to risk their job to report anything... they would just say “I saw nothing” if anything happened.

    By all means be extremely nice... they are fully armed police. You may disagree with the system, but I would show them extreme respect and be friendly.
     
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  13. Sep 2, 2019 #13

    Saddleshoes

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    My story is vary like yours. I travel the Southwest Chief to ABQ often as I grew up there. I have been thinking about this vary issue too. I decided if confronted I would...
    1. Ask the "reported" officer for a card and to see his badge. (Confirms and ID's status as law enforcement officer.)
    2. Ask for the car attendant to witness the search. (Gets Amtrak involved if things escalate.)
    3. Ask for a second officer to be present also. (Standard investigative procedure IF on the up and up.)
     
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  14. Sep 2, 2019 #14

    F900ElCapitan

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    Also, you can always record any and all searches. Video does not lie.
     
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  15. Sep 2, 2019 #15

    crescent-zephyr

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    Everyone's mileage may vary but in my situations (happened twice, both were Amtrak Police in Chicago) it was two officers and both showed badges and they were obviously legit Amtrak Police.
     
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  16. Sep 2, 2019 #16

    keelhauled

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    Yes, this has been my experience too. The problem is not that people have somehow been falsely impersonating Amtrak police, it's that the actual police know they have complete power over whether or not you get to board the train and they are not afraid to use it. I considered writing to Amtrak to complain after my most recent encounter, but their terms of carriage say that they can deny travel to anyone who doesn't comply with police instructions. They are not at all clear as to what constitutes a security hazard, so it is entirely up to an individual officer's discretion and the passenger has no recourse in the matter.

    The advantage to the TSA is that the volume of passengers means that they don't really proactively seek out people to search/question, so as long as you have things mildly in order at the checkpoint you are almost assured of not getting bothered. The random nature of Amtrak security means that while one might not get singled out, God help you if you do because the officer can take as much time to work you over as they want and there is not a thing you can do about it.
     
  17. Sep 2, 2019 #17

    jis

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    Well, TSA and airlines have their infamous SSSS flag, which assures royal treatment at the security checkpoint. :) It is sort of like the allegedly random selection for checks at train stations. Although, truth be told, I have never come across a frequent flyer with trusted traveler credentials ever get an SSSS.
     
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  18. Sep 2, 2019 #18

    keelhauled

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    Hence "almost assured." I've been randomly assigned precheck several times for whatever reason and never gotten SSSS.
     
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  19. Sep 2, 2019 #19

    Willbridge

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    I've never been inspected by Amtrak police, but have been awoken from a hard sleep before dawn on Train 27 in Grand Forks by the Border Patrol to be asked if I was a U.S. citizen. They woke up everyone in the coach, so it wasn't profiling. I tried to go back to sleep, but kept flashing back to European border crossings with various 1970 political systems that I had experienced.
     
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  20. Sep 3, 2019 #20

    SteveSTX

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    On a last-minute one-way CHI-EMY trip I was sitting in my roomette with the door open prior to departure from Chicago. Two gentlemen stopped at the door, showed identification, and said “we’re the police and we’d like to ask you a few questions.”

    I said “that’s nice, I’m also the police,” and I produced my badge and identification. That apparently caught them off guard and they mentioned something about recent attack on the train (which there had been) and left. They and their dog stayed on the train all the way to Galesburg. I heard another passenger (young male alone) on the telephone loudly complaining to some acquaintance how he had stood up to the officers.

    Anyhow, I’m retired now so for the first time in over 20 years I don’t have to worry about a drug test. On my recent train trip thru DC I bought a bag of “gummies” and I was a little worried until I read that the dogs aren’t really trained to smell gummies. I didn’t see any police on that trip though.

    I saw a thread about this over on T.O. And I just want to correct some bad legal advice that was posted over there. On Amtrak, obviously you have a right to refuse a search but they can then deny you transportation. You must also provide them with identification on request to prove that you are the ticketed passenger. Again, feel free to not travel.

    As far as non-transportation related encounters with police, the courts have ruled that a police officer may approach any person for a consensual conversation. The officer may ask you for your name and identification even in the absence of reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Since the encounter is consensual, you are free to not provide any information and you are free to leave (might be better to just ask “am I free to leave”?).

    In order to “detain” a person, an officer must have reasonable suspicion. This is a lower burden than probable cause. In Texas, if you are lawfully detained (reasonable suspicion) but not under arrest (probable cause) you are not required to provide any information or identification (unless driving a motor vehicle). It should be noted that if you decide not to remain silent when lawfully detained and provide a false name, address, or dob, then that’s an offense.

    I just wanted to correct the post over there that sort of implied an officer is somehow in the wrong if he asks you for identification in the absence of probable cause.

    Steve
     
  21. Sep 3, 2019 #21

    OldCond

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. Many interesting points. Another question. I'll be carrying several hundred dollars in cash for times when I don't want to use a credit card: small purchases, tips, etc. Probably less than five hundred dollars. Do they really sometimes just confiscate a person's cash? How much would be considered "too much" for an old guy to be carrying?
     
  22. Sep 3, 2019 #22

    MARC Rider

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    I don't know what amount would put you under suspicion for drug dealing, but once, when I was flying to Canada, customs agents on the jetway were asking each of us if we were taking more than $10,000 in cash out of the US.
     
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  23. Sep 3, 2019 #23

    Devil's Advocate

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    Yes. You are then expected to prove the money was not acquired through, used in, or intended for any criminal action or enterprise. Proving a negative is not easy so chances are good you'll lose the money forever despite lack of any evidence or charges against you.

    Civil asset forfeiture is distinct from the Currency and Financial Transactions Reporting Act.
     
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  24. Sep 3, 2019 #24

    Rasputin

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    I have travelled on the Southwest Chief five or six times as a solo passenger in the past 8 years and several times on the Texas Eagle/Sunset. Never had a problem and never been questioned.
     
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  25. Sep 4, 2019 #25

    PaTrainFan

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    Same here. I have taken several solo trips on western trains in the last few years, including two segments on the Southwest Chief and I have never been approached or even seen law enforcement onboard. I may have been very fortunate. Not that i have anything to hide, but these stories are very concerning.

     
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