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Posted at 1:35 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Riders council to request search halt

By Robert Thomson

The Metro Riders' Advisory Council, created by the Metro board to advise it, will recommend to the board Thursday that it halt the random inspections of passengers' bags.

Here's the full statement from the council prepared for delivery by Frank DeBernardo, the council chairman:

On January 3rd, the Riders' Council hosted a public meeting on the subject of the recently instituted random bag inspections, which were begun by the Metro Transit Police Department in mid-December 2010. The meeting was attended by over 100 people, who were overwhelmingly opposed to the new inspection procedure.

The Riders' Advisory Council requests that the Board halt the current program for random bag inspection because of significant unanswered questions about the program, it potential intrusion on civil liberties, and a lack of meaningful public discussion before implementation.

We request that the Board direct senior Metro staff to undertake a further comprehensive examination of the program, analyzing its effectiveness as a deterrent against terrorism in general, and in particular, from the context of public concern about civil liberties.

The review should also examine the program in light of other pressing public safety needs currently unaddressed, such as improving police response time and increasing police presence on trains and buses and in stations. There should be broad public participation in this examination, including at least one public hearing, consultation with the Riders' Council and dialogue with civil liberties organizations and other relevant groups.

The Council also recommends that the Board clarify its guidance to the General Manager to emphasize that he has authority to implement program such as this in the event of specific, credible threats, but that Board approval is required before initiating such programs in the absence of such threats or continuing them beyond a set period of time.

The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition and the D.C. Civil Liberties Coalition say members of the groups will present hundreds of names of people petitioning the Metro board to end the random bag inspections.

By Robert Thomson  | January 26, 2011; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  Metro, Transportation Politics  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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