Surprise surveillance on Golden Gate : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Surprise surveillance on bay span All trucks headed to Golden Gate Bridge stopped and searched

Peter Fimrite, Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writers Monday, November 12, 2001

In a stepped-up security move requested yesterday by Gov. Davis' anti- terrorism advisers, all trucks heading to the Golden Gate Bridge were being stopped and inspected.

The apparently abrupt decision to set up security checkpoints was approved yesterday morning by Davis, and quickly put into action in an attempt to catch truck drivers by surprise, state officials said.

"It's just our ongoing effort to make damn sure we're doing everything possible to make sure the bridge is safe," said Dwight "Spike" Helmick, commissioner of the California Highway Patrol.

Helmick -- as well as the governor's spokesman and bridge officials -- said there was no specific threat to the Golden Gate Bridge that prompted the extra security yesterday.

The checkpoints were requested yesterday morning by Helmick, George Vinson, Davis' newly appointed state security adviser, and Dallas Jones, director of the state Office of Emergency Services.

State and local officials said the extra security was part of the statewide vigilance at major California bridges and structures that began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

It is one of many things the CHP is doing to improve security around bridges, including assigning undercover officers in unmarked vehicles, using thermal imaging equipment and infrared night vision underneath and around the structures, Helmick said.

He said secrecy about the tactics and the element of surprise were key factors in the success of those programs.

"We want to keep the trucks and everyone else off guard, so they can't predict when these inspections will happen," Helmick said.

The CHP put up fluorescent signs directing truck traffic, excluding pickups,

to pull into coned-off areas starting at 2:30 p.m. yesterday until 4 a.m. today.

Trucks heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge were stopped on Doyle Drive and on Park Presidio, just north of Lake Street in San Francisco, and on southbound Highway 101 at the Spencer Avenue off ramp in Marin County.

Officers with flashlights checked driver's licenses and log books and inspected truck beds and trailers for hazardous materials or anything else suspicious, said traffic officer John Brandt, of the CHP's commercial enforcement unit.

A few drivers passed by the checkpoints and had to be chased down by CHP officers. Most either hadn't seen the signs or didn't realize it applied to them.

-- Martin Thompson (, November 12, 2001


Why is Davis attempting to grab the national spotlight all of a sudden -- what does he have in mind?

-- RogerT (, November 12, 2001.

He's trying to make up for his mismanagement of the power debacle

-- Steve McClendon (, November 13, 2001.

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