Surprise inspections greet truckers at Golden Gate Bridge

| Wednesday, November 14, 2001

In a stepped-up security move requested by California Gov. Gray Davis, all trucks approaching the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday and early Monday were stopped and inspected. Officials, pleased with the success of the inspection blitz, vowed to expand the spot checks to other Bay Area bridges in a statewide attempt to keep terrorists off balance.

The apparently abrupt decision to set up security checkpoints was approved Sunday morning by Davis, and quickly put into action in an attempt to catch truckdrivers by surprise. "We want to keep the trucks and everyone else off guard, so they can't predict when these inspections will happen," Dwight "Spike" Helmick, commissioner of the California Highway Patrol, told news reporters.

CHP put up fluorescent signs directing truck traffic to pull into coned-off areas. Officers checked driver's licenses and logbooks and inspected truck beds and trailers for hazardous materials or anything else suspicious.

Bridge and law enforcement officials insisted the spot checks were not in response to any specific terrorist threat. Officials said the extra security was part of a statewide vigilance at major California bridges and structures that began after Sept. 11.

CHP has also assigned undercover officers in unmarked vehicles, using thermal imaging equipment and infrared night vision underneath and around the structures, according to published reports.

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