A Chicago-bound businessman traveling in an Amtrak sleeping car didn't expect to wake up in Omaha. That's where plain clothes Nebraska State Patrol Investigators boarded and knocked on the doors of four first-class passengers.
Greg Travis of Bloomington, Indiana said, "It was a loud knock followed by questions. 'Where are you going! Who did you visit!' They shined a flashlight and I was in my pajamas."
Travis said he saw two other groggy passengers in his sleeping car also talking to the investigators. "If I had my wits about me, I might have said, 'No I don't want you looking through my dirty underwear.'"
Travis consented to a baggage search.
Nebraska State Troopers have often entered Amtrak trains to check out certain passengers.
Lt Scott Kracl said, "It's very professional. They don't bang on doors. They identify themselves and they tell the passenger they're not under arrest they just want to talk to them."
The Patrol won't reveal what triggers a red flag to check out a passenger. Typically they are looking for drugs, weapons or a wanted person.
Travis said investigators didn't tell him why they knocked on his door. In a railroad traveler blog he alleged the questioning took an hour. However Lt. Kracl said that's not correct. Investigators talked to the four passengers for about seven minutes each he said. Amtrak stopped in Omaha for less than a half hour and left on schedule.
The State Patrol's Investigative Lieutenant for Omaha said all methods for selecting a passenger to check have stood up in court. "We are very sensitive to the passengers and we don't detain the train."
That's the time eastbound Amtrak comes through Omaha each morning. Westbound is at 11pm.