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Can passengers be kicked off train for refusing police search?

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Ted Bell

Service Attendant
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Sep 17, 2012
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Salt Lake City, UT
An interesting comment from a passenger on Amtrak's facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Amtrak/posts/10151470316539014

While in walking to my sleeper car, I was approached by a man who said he needed to ask me some questions. I did not realize that the local "Sparks Police Department Officers" had boarded the train, or even if this type of action would happen and thought it was just another passenger. He proceeded to ask me about my trip, which I then asked for identification...
The gentleman was very bothered and offended, but he allowed search of his bags and room. My question is this: If he had refused to allow the Sparks Police Dept to search his belongings, could he have been escorted off the train? Keep in mind the search was being performed by the Sparks Police Dept - NOT Amtrak Police.
 

KrazyKoala

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Feb 4, 2013
Messages
346
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Los Angeles
I think when you step on on train, they lose their jurisdiction, as you are now on federal property. Would need a federal agent to pull you off. At least that is what I've gathered by my readings.
 

oregon pioneer

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near Seneca, Oregon
A friend of mine was searched at Reno. By his telling of the story, when he tried to assert his rights, they offered to take him off the train in order to wait for a warrant. Wishing to arrive at his destination on time, he then assented to the search. He is still steaming about the incident, as they had no cause other than profiling (he is an old peacenik, and looks the part), and do not bother with warrants.
 

the_traveler

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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
That "federal agent" is the conductor, who is "the law" on the train. (S)he can order you off a train, and as soon as your feet hit the ground, you are in the local jurisdiction! That is also why if necessary the train can stop at a grade crossing where you're handed over to the local police/sheriff!
 
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Ispolkom

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St. Paul, Minn.
A thread about another search on the California Zephyr is here.

I'm not sure what the thread title means. In the linked story I don't see where the officers threaten anything, unlike oregon pioneer's friend's story. Instead, the writer consents to the search again and again.

What surprises me is that he seems to have left his computer unattended in the Sightseer Lounge. That seems like a very bad idea.

IANAL, but it seems unlikely to me that federal courts and law enforcement have exclusive jurisdiction on Amtrak trains. After all, there were those local policemen who shot up a Superliner coach in Dallas in December 2011, killing a supposed miscreant and wounding another passenger.
 

crescent2

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Sep 15, 2012
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a little south of normal
I've always read that it's a myth that there is no local jurisdiction on trains, ships in port, etc. It would seem strange to me if they did not have any jurisdiction. They would have jurisdiction over someone in a federally owned vehicle, for instance. At the time, you're in that locality even though on a train.

Not to say that it's OK to search someone for no reason. Just speaking of jurisdiction.

It's my understanding the conductor can remove anyone at any time. Presumably, for a reason, but yes, the conductor can remove you from the train.
 

the_traveler

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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
On my recent train trip, I overheard 2 conductors speaking of a passenger.

Conductor #1 said to conductor #2 that " ... there is a passenger back in car ____ who has been drinking and bothering other passengers. He is scheduled to detrain at _______, but I think we should kick him off at _________ instead."

I don't know what happened with that passenger.
 
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AmtrakBlue

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Delaware
On my recent train trip, I overheard 2 conductors speaking of a passenger.
Conductor #1 said to conductor #2 that " ... there is a passenger back in car ____ who has been drinking and bothering other passengers. He is scheduled to detrain at _______, but I think we should kick him off at _________ instead."

I don't know what happened with that passenger.
Well, Jim seems to finished his trip ok, so I guess they let him stay on. :giggle:
 
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Ryan

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OTN
I think when you step on on train, they lose their jurisdiction, as you are now on federal property. Would need a federal agent to pull you off. At least that is what I've gathered by my readings.
Not exactly:
From Amtrak's Terms:

http://www.amtrak.com/terms-of-transportation

Reservations must be made when required, and tickets are not transferable. If you do not board your train as booked, your entire reservation is subject to cancellation. In order to ensure the quality of travel and safety and security of its passengers, Amtrak may refuse to carry passengers:
Who have not paid the applicable fare;

Who present an Amtrak ticket purchased from an unauthorized third party. Amtrak tickets may only be sold or issued by Amtrak or an authorized travel agent/tour operator. Any ticket purchased from an unauthorized third party will be voided. The ticket holder will not be eligible for travel or for a refund.

Whose conduct is objectionable (such as, but not limited to, being under the influence of alcohol or narcotics);

Whose personal hygiene makes them offensive;

Who pose a health, safety or security hazard to other passengers or employees;

Who refuse to comply with safety or security rules or with instructions of Amtrak personnel;

Who would require Amtrak personnel to provide personal care services or otherwise do not meet the essential requirements for the receipt of Amtrak services; or

Who refuse to consent to Amtrak security inspections of persons and/or baggage onboard Amtrak trains and/or at designated areas, such as train platforms and passenger boarding or waiting areas.

Amtrak employees or other authorized carrier representatives may remove such a passenger from the train at any inhabited place, as necessary under the circumstances, for any of the above reasons.
The local police can't do it on their own, but if the conductor says "Consent or get off", you're either consenting or watching the train leave without out.
 

Peter KG6LSE

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WilsonVille OR 20 Min From PDX
I am just gonna point out that I doubt most conductors have any Real LEO backround,,,,, If we had the money really a REAL amtrack Officer sould be on each train to Be " the law" ....... Some one with Real education in CJ. ?

Has there been any documented case of a Over zelous Conductor being reprimanded for kicking off some one whom Was not breaking any rules ,. ... I smell a lack of checks and balances here .... Much like the TSA.

Ryan I can see a corhersion here ......

The local police can't do it on their own, but if the conductor says "Consent or get off", you're either consenting or watching the train leave without out.

Does this not Break the law of innocent til proven guilty . It appears now that a conductor can force a pax to a non legal search ,,,,

no warrant . no Joy .. the conductor is now becoming a judge in this case ,,,,,,,

if kicking some one off requires LOADS of paper work . the same load as a officer discharged there firearm then I can see some check and balance , but really the abuse potential is WAY to high ...

I have proof of one bad condistor whom put a ENTIRE car in danger , and I called amtrack PD and they did nothigg...... If I was any more well off I would have lanunched a class action lawsuit ..... .... I have a whole car of pax whom were Livid............... the issue was We were in the front car, so door A was locked ,. and door B was broken shut , and ONLY opened up from the outside.... .. and this was on the Wolverine . there are no inside side doers, Just the pull handles on the side glass................ only wallking way out was if some one came from the other car and triend to get in ,,, I told the LSA and cond and NO one cared,,, had we had a fire the poor lady in here wheel char would have been Outta luck in a fire egress .......

.Sad I did not have a VId cam that day ,, only my SLR ,.... make a Great news story .

I have done Fire training. I have had 3 Degree burns too.....\

as much as I dispise the the airlines ,,,THEY are under WAY more microscope then the people on the rails ...
 
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George Harris

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now in California
A conductor's authority (and responsibility) is firmly established in law and has been for well over 100 years. It is not just Amtrak. It goes back to way before them. Not liking it does not change it.
 

Peter KG6LSE

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WilsonVille OR 20 Min From PDX
SO WE are to accept it ??? I am sorry .This is not the wild west , its 2013 ,Get some LEO training or get a new job...... You want the power to Ruin some one's day . You need to Earn it !..... Real cops have to have PROOF .....

Every Conductor Needs to know CPR ,How to use a AED ,,,, THE LAW as in a 2 Year degree, and then can take on training to become a conductor ..... Oh and how to operate a simple as heck Iphone and scan every one's tickets .

Hold them to the same standards as airline pilots,,,,,,, Fitness tests..... yearly reviews .

If I was a TSA or a conductor I would make shure I am the best there is .. hardly any one these days takes Real pride in there job.

It shows .! I am on a student wages job at my college optics lab..... I take Real pride in what I do .As If I made 80 grand a year .

You know why .. Because I refuse to be another brick in the wall of the world .

Fire Scares the RTYUI outta me ..... I own 5 fire extinguishers in my 1000^2 foot apt..... 1 ABC Mono Dry . 2 HALOTRON and 2 CO2 ..... Why Because burning alive is NOT my way I want to leave this world..... I also have a spare air can that holds 15 Breaths ..plenty enough to have me Fight and escape with NO lung damage..

George when I was Blown off by a Fedral police force .. A """"responsible"""" Conductor and a LSA .... I am sorry I have No faith in any the stuff they Teach them............. what If Your son or daughter died or got injured in a fire on that train and the door was not maintained ,,,,,, Ummmmmm Yea not good .; those Cars were Approved to have a main egress and a second ........ the main is NOT the windows ...

There were a TON of open seats in that train ,,,,, they should have at once moved every one out and in the rest of the train and then Rope it off....

Yes . One bad apple can spolie the whole basket......... Perhaps the other apples should have Ratted the bad one out ....
 

ScottC4746

OBS Chief
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Jan 11, 2009
Messages
850
Location
Redondo Beach, CA
Amtrak, along with the Amtrak Police Department, has a range of behind-the-scenes and front-line security measures in place to ensure passenger rail security.

Among these security measures, some of which are conducted on an unpredictable or random basis, passengers may notice any of the following in stations or onboard trains:

  • Uniformed police officers and Special Operations Units
  • Random passenger and carry-on baggage screening and inspection*
  • K-9 units
  • Checked baggage screening
  • Onboard security checks
  • Identification checks
*With due respect to passengers' privacy, the random screening and inspection of passengers and their personal items will be completed as quickly as possible - usually in less than a minute. Passengers failing to consent to security procedures will be denied access to trains and refused carriage, and a refund will be offered.

In a nutshell from the website and page 142 from the national timetable:
 

Peter KG6LSE

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 4, 2011
Messages
433
Location
WilsonVille OR 20 Min From PDX
Does that refund Include a Tit for tat local law stop and search on a train sans warrent . ? the amtrack PD laws are Very Clear.

the laws that incluede the CBP and the Local LEOs are not ....... If I am in a Roomett and some LAPD LEO wants to stop and rummage in my room ., and I say no .. do I get my money back?
 

leemell

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Messages
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Location
Los Angeles, CA
Does that refund Include a Tit for tat local law stop and search on a train sans warrent . ? the amtrack PD laws are Very Clear.the laws that incluede the CBP and the Local LEOs are not ....... If I am in a Roomett and some LAPD LEO wants to stop and rummage in my room ., and I say no .. do I get my money back?
NO, that refund is for "Passengers failing to consent to security procedures will be denied access to trains and refused carriage". That is BEFORE you board the train. After you are on, I don't believe there will be a refund offered. You're just SOL.
 
G

guest

Guest
Call me naive, but I don't understand the problem. IF you're not guilty of doing anything wrong, why not just consent to a search and let them be on their merry way? If you ARE guilty of something illegal, then you probably deserve to be caught anyway. Don't you appreciate the fact that someone is, indeed, looking out for illegal activities? I do...

I feel the same say about the TSA folks at the airports too. I've got nothing to hide when I travel, so just let me go through the screening process and get to my gate. I'm not going to holler about my rights being abused. None of us would be subject to this treatment if it weren't for the 9/11 terror attacks. Is the security screenings ridiculous? Yes. Do they make me feel any safer today than I did before they came into play? No. But, it is, unfortunately, needed in the world today.
 

Ryan

Conductor
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Apr 14, 2008
Messages
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OTN
Because generally speaking, I'm kind of the fan of the 4th amendment (as I am the rest of the Constitution), and unless you can come up with a darn good reason to bother me, I'm not really that interested in letting you go on a fishing expedition in my personal belongings.

But, that has to be tempered with the understanding that when you buy an Amtrak ticket, their rules apply.
 

Ispolkom

Conductor
Joined
Nov 27, 2007
Messages
3,058
Location
St. Paul, Minn.
I'm willing to go along with the customs of the country I'm in. When I lived in the Soviet Union, I didn't complain about document checks, or the time in Tambov that someone searched my hotel room in a crass and messy manner.

Here in the US, though, things used to be different. Therefore, I resent having to undergo TSA's security theater at the airport because I hate bad participatory theater, and I'm certainly not going to consent to a search by some random peace officer. If they've got enunciable probable cause, go ahead, otherwise I'm not interested in continuing the conversation.

Of course it's easy for me to say that, because I'm an overweight, white, balding middle-aged man, in whom no law enforcement official ever shows the least interest.
 
N

Nathanael

Guest
An interesting comment from a passenger on Amtrak's facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/Amtrak/posts/10151470316539014

While in walking to my sleeper car, I was approached by a man who said he needed to ask me some questions. I did not realize that the local "Sparks Police Department Officers" had boarded the train, or even if this type of action would happen and thought it was just another passenger. He proceeded to ask me about my trip, which I then asked for identification...
The gentleman was very bothered and offended, but he allowed search of his bags and room. My question is this: If he had refused to allow the Sparks Police Dept to search his belongings, could he have been escorted off the train? Keep in mind the search was being performed by the Sparks Police Dept - NOT Amtrak Police.
If I remember the law correctly, he could not have been escorted off the train by the Sparks Police Department; if they had asked the conductor to escort him off the train *and the conductor had agreed*, then the conductor could escort him off the train.

While local police have "concurrent jurisdiction" with Amtrak police, the Amtrak police have *primary* jurisdiction. So if the local police actually have probable cause then they can arrest someone on the train. They *never* have authority to delay the train. If they are merely on a fishing expedition, with no probable cause, they cannot legally arrest you -- and if they try, Amtrak can legally arrest THEM for crimes such as harassment and deprivation of civil rights.

The conductor, however, is very much like the captain of a ship. He can hold people (including rogue police officers) in custody temporarily, and he can throw you off the train at any safe location. And he can do so for a very broad list of reasons. (If he was totally unjustified in doing so, Amtrak might have to compensate you after the fact for the ticket price and the cost of alternate transportation, etc., but he's still entitled to throw you off.)

Don't rely on your conductor understanding the extent of his powers and authority, though.

---

Now, if I was subject to one of these illegal searches, and if after I declined politely they started threatening me with removal from the train -- well, I'd probably start by saying in a cheery voice "I'll need to get all your names, badge numbers, and department names down on paper for the civil rights lawsuit. My favorite civil rights lawyer will loooove to hear about this one!" (Which is true, he loves violation-of-constitutional-rights cases.) They might, of course, back off at that point.

I've been known to carry confidential business documents, and no way are they getting searched without a warrant, no way no how. In answer to the guest, that's ONE reason why someone who has done nothing illegal would NOT consent to a search.
 
N

Nathanael

Guest
Call me naive, but I don't understand the problem. IF you're not guilty of doing anything wrong, why not just consent to a search and let them be on their merry way? If you ARE guilty of something illegal, then you probably deserve to be caught anyway. Don't you appreciate the fact that someone is, indeed, looking out for illegal activities? I do...
I feel the same say about the TSA folks at the airports too. I've got nothing to hide when I travel,
Obviously you aren't a researcher with commercially sensitive information or an investor with valuable secret market analysis (for two examples).

There's lots of totally legal stuff which people have good reason to keep secret (even, or especially, from random cops). There's actually a reason why the 4th amendment lists "papers and effects" specifically; a recent court ruling has said that computer hard drives and data storage devices are the modern-day equivalent of "papers".
 

hessjm

OBS Chief
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Jul 7, 2008
Messages
509
Location
Downtown Grand Rapids
SO WE are to accept it ??? I am sorry .This is not the wild west , its 2013 ,Get some LEO training or get a new job...... You want the power to Ruin some one's day . You need to Earn it !..... Real cops have to have PROOF ..... Every Conductor Needs to know CPR ,How to use a AED ,,,, THE LAW as in a 2 Year degree, and then can take on training to become a conductor ..... Oh and how to operate a simple as heck Iphone and scan every one's tickets .

Hold them to the same standards as airline pilots,,,,,,, Fitness tests..... yearly reviews .

If I was a TSA or a conductor I would make shure I am the best there is .. hardly any one these days takes Real pride in there job.

It shows .! I am on a student wages job at my college optics lab..... I take Real pride in what I do .As If I made 80 grand a year .

You know why .. Because I refuse to be another brick in the wall of the world .

Fire Scares the RTYUI outta me ..... I own 5 fire extinguishers in my 1000^2 foot apt..... 1 ABC Mono Dry . 2 HALOTRON and 2 CO2 ..... Why Because burning alive is NOT my way I want to leave this world..... I also have a spare air can that holds 15 Breaths ..plenty enough to have me Fight and escape with NO lung damage..

George when I was Blown off by a Fedral police force .. A """"responsible"""" Conductor and a LSA .... I am sorry I have No faith in any the stuff they Teach them............. what If Your son or daughter died or got injured in a fire on that train and the door was not maintained ,,,,,, Ummmmmm Yea not good .; those Cars were Approved to have a main egress and a second ........ the main is NOT the windows ...

There were a TON of open seats in that train ,,,,, they should have at once moved every one out and in the rest of the train and then Rope it off....

Yes . One bad apple can spolie the whole basket......... Perhaps the other apples should have Ratted the bad one out ....
In Michigan, by statute the conductor on a passenger train has the same authority of a regular police officer for most definable cases. I have posted the MCLA (Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated) in other threads. The point is the conductor of a train has far more reaching authority than most people think.
 

battalion51

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USA
I think sometimes things get blown out of proportion. As the saying goes, "There's his story, her story, and the truth." Most of the time security isn't a word that most people think of when they think of Amtrak as they would when they think of the airlines. However, that's not to say that people aren't subject to random inspections, or that the train won't be swept by a K-9 team, they are certainly subject to that. I would submit that if you're unwilling to let someone take a peek in your briefcase that's going to arouse suspicion, whereas just letting them look through, odds are they won't be looking long enough to see anything of value anyway. Even if they did the average cop wouldn't know what in the name of Sam Hill it was anyway. Amtrak trains are just as much a possible terrorist target as planes, subways, buses or any other form of mass transit. In today's day and age we all need to be willing to go through some precautions to keep us all safe. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
 
N

Nathanael

Guest
I think sometimes things get blown out of proportion. As the saying goes, "There's his story, her story, and the truth." Most of the time security isn't a word that most people think of when they think of Amtrak as they would when they think of the airlines. However, that's not to say that people aren't subject to random inspections, or that the train won't be swept by a K-9 team, they are certainly subject to that. I would submit that if you're unwilling to let someone take a peek in your briefcase that's going to arouse suspicion, whereas just letting them look through, odds are they won't be looking long enough to see anything of value anyway. Even if they did the average cop wouldn't know what in the name of Sam Hill it was anyway. Amtrak trains are just as much a possible terrorist target as planes, subways, buses or any other form of mass transit. In today's day and age we all need to be willing to go through some precautions to keep us all safe. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
If you think you have nothing to hide, you're almost certainly wrong. I would appreciate seeing the nude photos and X-rays which you have already put online, however, since you have nothing to hide. Also your bank account numbers, birthdate, mother's maiden name, credit card numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, fingerprints, etc. ;-)
 

battalion51

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Messages
7,193
Location
USA
And the award for sarcastic comment of the night goes to...wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...
 

Edgefan

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 16, 2008
Messages
198
Location
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I think sometimes things get blown out of proportion. As the saying goes, "There's his story, her story, and the truth." Most of the time security isn't a word that most people think of when they think of Amtrak as they would when they think of the airlines. However, that's not to say that people aren't subject to random inspections, or that the train won't be swept by a K-9 team, they are certainly subject to that. I would submit that if you're unwilling to let someone take a peek in your briefcase that's going to arouse suspicion, whereas just letting them look through, odds are they won't be looking long enough to see anything of value anyway. Even if they did the average cop wouldn't know what in the name of Sam Hill it was anyway. Amtrak trains are just as much a possible terrorist target as planes, subways, buses or any other form of mass transit. In today's day and age we all need to be willing to go through some precautions to keep us all safe. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
If you think you have nothing to hide, you're almost certainly wrong. I would appreciate seeing the nude photos and X-rays which you have already put online, however, since you have nothing to hide. Also your bank account numbers, birthdate, mother's maiden name, credit card numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, fingerprints, etc. ;-)
It was a thread exactly like this a few years ago why I disappeared from this very useful forum. I had my 4th amendment rights violated in Reno on the CZ. Not realizing my bags were searched until after the fact when we unpacked upon returning home. We boarded in SAC so all the luggage racks in our sleeping car were full. Sleeping car attendant told ALL who were boarding at SAC to place their luggage in the unoccupied accessible bedroom. (for some in this forum at that time, that was probable cause enough) Reno Police had a heyday with our two bags and even tore a dress in my wife's bag. "Some" forum members at that time insinuated there was a reason for my and my wife being searched. All I can say is there was no reason or probable cause what-so-ever. What peeved me most was my lack of presence during the search. I know I gave up my rights when I purchased a ticket. We as citizens allowed the desecration of our bill of rights many years ago. It has nothing to do with safety or Amtrak My wife and I complained to the Reno police dept. We actually did receive an apology, but no compensation for the material damages. I don't fly because I refuse to be treated like cattle. I still travel and love Amtrak. Waiting in the wings to see how we the people allow ourselves to be treated by our Government..
 
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