New security crackdown for big rigs

March 19, 2008 7:11:42 PM PDT
Law enforcement agencies from across the Bay Area are teaming up to hold random inspections of the trucks traveling our highways.

The goal of these checkpoints is to make the roads safer for all of us.

About 19,000 trucks move in and out of the Port of Oakland every day. That makes it an ideal spot for random truck inspections, like this one this morning.

The random stops help augment routine screenings done at CHP checkpoints along the highway system.

The Oakland Police Department led today's multi-agency task force.

"We can check enough that it makes a difference. Word gets out to the trucking community and there's a ripple effect," said Oakland Police Deputy Chief Dave Kozicki.

Twice a month somewhere in Alameda County, a random checkpoint screens trucks for traffic safety violations, emissions violations, cargo registration and weapons of mass destruction.

Last year, eight truck drivers were detained here at the port because they were on the watch-list.

"Thank goodness we have never found explosives but we do have detection equipment out there constantly testing for the presence of explosives as well as chemical weapons," said Kozicki.

The port itself also screens all containers coming from outside the U.S. for radiation, and selects containers to test for explosives.

More common violations found at the random checks are in the category of traffic safety. Yellow marks show dangerous cracks on this trailer, found during a prior inspection.

Officers say while truckers generally take good care of their tractors. The containers they haul are not their own. The driver claims to welcome the inspection.

"Keep everybody safe. Not only us as drivers, the whole freeway," said truck driver Michael Rhodes.

"What happens is if not taken care of and welded, going down the road pieces of this will fall off and go through somebody's windshield, possibly hurting them," said Officer John Flynn from Fremont Police.

The random checkpoint comes to the port of Oakland twice a year.