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Transit Police ramp up patrols, technology as Olympics near

Extra nightly patrols by Transit Police are now being mounted to guard against trouble-makers who might tamper with TransLink's facilities or vehicles during the Olympics.

Sgt. Tom Seaman won't use the word "terrorists," but it's clear the measures are aimed at bigger threats than graffiti artists out to do some nocturnal tagging.

"We're concerned about any type of interference any group might entertain and we want to ensure we are out there protecting the system as best we can," he said.

He said the after-dark patrols will use heat-seeking devices to determine if people have walked through certain areas near stations, bus depots and other TransLink property.

The force has also acquired two sniffer dogs – a black Lab and a golden retriever – but they're in training and not likely to see action before the Games are over.

Other technology is at the ready to determine whether a suspicious bag left behind might be a bomb.

Mobile X-ray units can be used by Transit Police officers to scan anything suspicious from a considerable distance.

"The device is very powerful," Seaman said. "We can X-ray a bag at one end of a station from the other end – or even through a door."

They can also swab bags or other objects to detect explosive substances.

Other measures are also in place, such as relocating newspaper boxes further away from busy station entrances.

There are now 170 Transit Police officers and Seaman said the force will use overtime to deploy roughly double the number of officers it usually has on the system for much of the Games.

The aim is to have officers at all busy stations at all operating times.

So far, officers haven't been notified of any specific threats, Seaman said.

Nor have they had any reports of pickpockets.

Most of the action so far has involved giving directions to international visitors, who Seaman said are mostly delighted with the transit system, particularly the Canada Line and the "very popular" SeaBus ride to the North Shore.

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