Drivers and bus riders in the Volunteer state will soon have more to deal with than traffic tie-ups. But don’t worry, citizens, it’s all in the name of safety and security.
Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security has partnered with the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA), the agency now infamous for excessive body searches of small children and little old ladies in wheelchairs.
Operation VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) is not a response to a particular known threat department Commissioner Bill Gibbons said on Tuesday in a press release. The effort is instead meant to deter and detect activity through a visible state-wide presence.
VIPR includes several other state and federal agencies teamed together to catch or prevent terrorists at the state’s truck weight/inspection stations and bus stations in two of the largest cities, Knoxville and Nashville. The release didn’t say why neither Memphis nor Chattanooga, both metropolitan areas with several interstate routes, were not included.
VIPR is also intended to make the public aware of the First Observer Highway Security Program, a national initiative that uses truck driver volunteers to report suspicious behaviors while driving.
The joint operation is a first to use this kind of presence across a state. It’s unknown at this time if TSA intends to step up searches of private autos at some future point.