An ad campaign in the New York subway implores passengers to be vigilant about potential threats in our midst. "If you see something, say something," the ad line goes.
But what happens when the authorities themselves fail us?
The following is a letter my friend Ellen wrote to The New York Times, alerting them of an alarming situation she encountered not so much because of the actual incident, but the official response.
Last night, as I was about to ascend the stairs at the 14th st. stop on the F/V subway line, I noticed a very large suitcase unattended, rougly 10 feet away from the token booth. I asked two girls purchasing metrocards at the booth if the suitcase belonged to them, and they replied "no." I then asked the booth operator if she was aware of the unattended bag, and to my utter amazement, she replied "Yes, I am aware. A gentleman left it there for a minute while he went down to the Path train to get change. It's ok." I then turned to a policeman and asked him if he found the bag suspicious. His reply: "Yes, it's ok. A gentleman left it for a minute to get change."
The complete naivety and ignorance I encountered leaves me to believe that we have created a facade of protection. Is our police force really trained to think critically, and are the employees of the MTA given basic training on how to suspect and report suspicious activity?
Perhaps the gentleman who left the bag was wearing RNC credentials, which would be how a would-be terrorist might think to get past our last line of defense.