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The Therapy Sessions
Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A Philadelphia story

This is a wonderful Philadelphia story.

Last week, our public transportation bureaucracy released that its police had found a sophisticated motion detector along the railroad tracks.
Powered by a nine-volt battery, the Optex 1000 series sensor uses radio waves to transmit an alarm at motion up to 50 feet away. A similar device and a handheld alarm together were offered for sale on the Internet yesterday for about $125.

It issued warnings to passengers, stopped some trains and got the FBI involved.

Terrorism? Come one, this is Philadelphia:
"It was in a perfect place if you wanted to get some sleep and be alerted if your boss is coming," SEPTA security chief James B. Jordan said of the sensor at a news conference yesterday. "He knew the route his supervisor would be walking across the yard."

...The longtime union electrician - his name was not disclosed - was apparently chagrined to learn that the device he stowed in gravel near rails in West Philadelphia had set off an FBI investigation, sparked a flurry of media coverage late last week, and jarred SEPTA riders edgy since the Madrid train bombings in March.

So, he turned himself in to the FBI, Jordan said.

"It appears to be a case of employee misconduct rather than a threat of terrorist activity," Jordan said, adding that the worker remained on the job pending an inquiry. "I think he is about to begin taking vacation time immediately."

SEPTA even bungled the investigation:
The news came as SEPTA continued to examine how its police department handled the sensor, which was found by a Regional Rail conductor May 5. Far from where the public rides trains, the device was discovered near train storage tracks in the Powelton yard, near 30th Street Station.

The SEPTA police officer who confiscated the device on May 5 inexplicably stowed it in his locker for a week, smearing any possible fingerprints, before turning it over to a SEPTA police special-operations unit on May 12, Jordan said in an interview. SEPTA then immediately alerted the Philadelphia police bomb squad and the FBI.

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