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Terrorists eyeing Washington ferries?

While the Washington State Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard have increased the percentages of vehicles screened on the Washington State Ferries, this does not indicate an increased terrorist threat, according to local sources.

“There’s nothing that I am aware of that represents more or less of threat,” said Kitsap County prosecutor Russ Hauge.

Added Department of Emergency Management director Phyllis Mann, “None of this is new. The ferries are a major transportation system and a target just like the Space Needle.”

As of Saturday, an increased number of vehicles are required to be randomly screened before boarding, according to State Patrol spokesman Capt. Fred Fakkema.

This, he said, could have the end result of making the ferries safer.

A report in the Seattle Times over the weekend documented several reported instances of concern and generated about 170 related stories, according to a Google news search.

But Fakkema said these reported instances “represented old information.”

“Any time there is an incident or complaint, we investigate,” he said.

Fakkema said such reports are not restricted to any ethnic background or religious group.

For instance, authorities may investigate a tall, blonde person taking extensive video, make a report, and then report the matter as an “incident.”

Hauge said the threat of terrorists has been consistent since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and is the subject of a continuing level of discussion between various law enforcement agencies.

Fakkema said that the available K-9 units were adequate to handle the increased screening requirements.

While he declined to reveal specifics of the process, he said that sometimes the Washington State Patrol would initiate a more thorough search than a dog-based screening.

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