Anti-terrorism officers heighten nervousness on light rail

It’s a pretty safe bet that when Minnesota’s Department of Homeland Security was created, it wasn’t to check to be sure that people riding the Green Line had purchased tickets.

We know that because the department’s website tells us so:

The mission of the Homeland Security branch is to lead the unified state effort to keep Minnesota secure and prevent acts of terrorism. Staff members help public and private partners determine key community assets and prioritize how to protect them.

So what was really going on on the Green Line today?

Far from bringing a sense of security, the officers appear to have caused some discomfort for passengers.

A reporter for the Star Tribune says the Homeland Security police told passengers it wasn’t an immigration raid, they were just checking tickets.

Why would anyone think it was a raid?

Because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has Minneapolis and Hennepin County in its sights.

But it’s not entirely new. Homeland Security officers have been spotted on the Green Line periodically since it opened. But, of course, these are different, more nervous times now and the intimidation factor is heightened.

A Metro Transit spokesperson tells MPR’s Martin Moylan the officers were being familiarized with transit operations and were part of the Transportation Security Administration’s VIPR team — Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response — whose mission is to “prevent and deter acts of terrorism against U.S. transportation systems.”