K-9 patrols at Sea-Tac, Amtrak tightens security after Brussels terror attacks

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says there is no “specific, credible intelligence” of plots against the United States like those carried out in Brussels.

As a precaution, the Homeland Security Department is stepping up security at major U.S. airports and rail and transit stations around the country.

Johnson says DHS officials are in contact with their European counterparts and monitoring the situation.

Security officials are reviewing whether additional screening may be necessary for air travelers coming from Belgium. Belgium is one of 38 countries whose residents generally do not need a visa to visit the U.S.

With Brussels on lockdown and the French prime minister saying Europe is “at war,” European leaders held emergency security meetings and deployed more police, explosives experts, sniffer dogs and plainclothes officers at key points across the continent.

After a string of extremist attacks targeting the heart of Europe in the past year, analysts say Europe will finally have to implement a much tougher level of security not only at airports, but at so-called “soft targets” such as shopping malls — the kind of measures Israelis have been living with for years.

“The threat we are facing in Europe is about the same as what Israel faces,” said Olivier Guitta, the managing director of GlobalStrat, an international security consultancy. “We have entered an era in which we are going to have to change our way of life and take security very seriously.”

Airports and transit systems across the United States were placed on heightened alert because of concerns about possible copycat attacks. Some cities added extra bomb-sniffing dogs and foot patrols to major transit hubs and airport terminals.

Airports, including those in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami and Philadelphia, put security staff on heightened alert. New York National Guard troops were deployed to John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports, and state police stepped up patrols at major train stations in Manhattan.

KING-TV reported K-9 patrols Tuesday at Sea-Tac’s terminal and police officers at the terminal curb.

Perry Cooper, media relations manager for Sea-Tac, said in an email statement: “A routine increase of visibility of officers will take place, however we do not expect any additional delays for travelers. As always we encourage travelers if they see something, say something by contacting an airport employee or call 911.”

US travelers are advised to check with their airlines for delays. Sea-Tac arrivals and departures are listed here.

In the U.S., airport security is complicated by the division of responsibilities. Typically, the Transportation Security Administration handles the screening of passengers and baggage, but the airport or local police oversee security of terminals, parking lots and other public areas.

There are increased police patrols within terminals during times of heightened security, but even then most passengers don’t interact with police and aren’t questioned until they reach the checkpoint. Airport operators and the TSA note there are many layers to security, many which are not visible to the public.

Amtrak was tightening security Tuesday. In a statement, Amtrak encouraged passengers to report suspicious behavior:

“Extra officers have been deployed. We have reminded Amtrak employees to look for and report any suspicious activity and unattended items and reissued guidance pertaining to facility inspections and active shooter incidents. Individuals are encouraged to report behaviors or activities that are unusual or out of the ordinary, such as trespassers and suspicious packages, by calling Amtrak Police at 800-331-0008 or texting APD11 from a smartphone or 27311 from a standard cell phone.”

The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

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