I Feel Safer Already...
The MBTA began randomly searching commuters' bags and packages for explosives this morning, stationing police officers and bomb detection equipment at selected transit stations throughout metropolitan Boston.
The bomb detection machine registered at least one false positive for explosive residue when alarms sound while officers were checking the bag of a 40-year-old father of two from Andover. Officers pulled Paul Cianciulli out of line and searched the inside of his bag by hand before letting him pass. The false positive may have come from asthma medication, investigators said.
"May have come from asthma medication"? Well, that's reassuring. I wonder where future false positive tests "may" come from. Lipstick? Turkey sandwiches? Cigarette lighters? Extra-funky body odor?
Also, what if there was some incidental contact between this man's bag and his shoe bombs on his way out the house this morning?
"If they can get residue from my bag, they'll get residue from any bag," said Cianciulli, who missed his train.
Once again, the local press are neglecting to ask the questions that matter the most.
First, will there be a public record of all the false positive test results from this program? It seems to me the public (aka: the people funding, and being inconvenienced by, this program) should be entitled to any and all information concerning the reliability of the testing procedures being put into place here, and of the equipment being used.
Second, what is the current acceptable threshold level for false positive test results per day?
And third, will commuters who miss their train due to a search of their bags following a false positive test be given a Dunkin Donuts gift card if they politely thank the MBTA Police for making them late for work?