Leaders enact plans to protect California’s transit, infrastructure

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday authorized federal grants to be used to pay for local law enforcement officers working overtime to ensure safety across the state.

“I can assure the people of California that we are doing everything to keep the people safe and return our airports to normal operations as quickly as possible,” he said.

As California airports were placed on high alert, the governor called San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to alert them and offer any services the two cities may need, said Adam Mendelsohn, the governor’s

communications director.

“The governor was kind enough to make a direct call,” Newsom said. “I spoke with him about his desire somehow to augment our resources with the National Guard. We are happy to accept those resources, though I want to underscore we didn’t feel the need to request them, which underscores the fact that we have, I think, ample security with or without the National Guard.”

San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman Officer Maria Oropeza said there was no credible threat to The City. Still, agencies from the California Highway Patrol to Bay Area public transportation authorities were on high alert.

Officers with bomb-sniffing dogs were patrolling BART stations and trains on Thursday. BART spokesman Linton Johnson said BART was on a high security alert, causing passengers to experience minor delays.

“BART police along with many police dogs will be randomly holding trains at stations and doing security sweeps,” he said,refusing to say which trains were being searched.

The CHP increased its officer presence on highways as well as at the California Power Grid, state landmarks, dams and state buildings, according to CHP spokesman Tom Marshall. He said the department has also informed airports across the state that their officers, aircraft and bomb-sniffing dogs are available if needed.

“We have a very robust system of cooperation and coordination amongst our state agencies,” said Matt Bettenhausen, the director of the California Office of Homeland Security.

San Francisco agencies such as Muni and the Police Department have been on a heightened sense of security since the Sept. 11 attacks, they said.

“We try to be proactive instead of reactive,” Muni spokeswoman Maggie Lynch said. “We don’t really ramp down. We try to stay vigilant.”

Security at the Golden Gate Bridge is always “higher than required,” according to a spokesman with the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transit Authority who said he could not talk about specific security measures.

sfarooq@examiner.com Staff writer Bonnie Eslinger contributed to this story.

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