Unfortunately, such simplified (and bipolar?) thinking is prevalent in the Canadian psyche and the roots can be easily understood. In a society that has become accustomed to live in the self-indulging cocoon of "Nothing can happen here!", a rude awakening to rapidly changing global and local realities can be very painful. When it affects the national security, groups that refuse to recognize challenges and adapt to OR affect change in a studied manner, usually find themselves accepting draconian measures that cost billions and trample rights/privacy after the fact. Human history provides us with ample evidence for that. So, what is to be done?
Since it is likely that the attention would concentrate on the high-impact areas, i.e. passenger terminals along the Eastern corridor, what could some of the sensible options introduced at this point be?
- Passenger ID: we believe a mandatory check is required, especially when connected with luggage reconciliation. Could be a machine-readable and quick process.
- Luggage screening: may be required, but only as part of a risk matrix assessment and/or subject to a decision by the especially trained officers focusing on suspicious behaviours. Shouldn't be mandatory for all passengers at all times.
- Biometric technology: some options exist allowing security operators at SOC to quickly identify suspicious objects, behaviours, inconsistencies that can be reported to and dealt with by the ground security personnel.
- Professional Security officers: trained in behaviour observation and how to conduct security interviews would both increase deterrence and VIA Rail's customer facilitation levels. However, these officers must be part of a stringent performance measurement & quality assurance framework (we wrote about this here).
With that, the most important part is this -- if VIA Rail wants to create a proactive, risk-based model based on common sense and true security (preventative) it should be based on Quality and performance measurements for its staff and processes. Good security is based on regular assessments (i.e. accountability) and the professionalism of deployed security officers and managers who can motivate them. Various tech gadgets come later.