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Metro Says No Specific Threat Against D.C. Transit

Metro says transit police officers are continuing high-visibility inspections in Metrorail stations, on trains and on Metrobuses. They've been doing that since the week of Sept. 11, as they usually do. But there has not been an additional elevation of security following the arrest of a terror suspect in Colorado, as described in this story.

Transit police have not implemented the program under which they would randomly search passenger's bags as they enter the stations.

"Our system is as safe as an open system can be. There are several actions we take that are known or visible to the public such as patrols, cameras in stations and chemical and biological detection devices," Dave Webb, Deputy Chief of the transit police homeland security unit, said in a statement this afternoon. "There are also some actions that we take that are not visible to the public and they are designed to be that way."

The Post story linked above notes that officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI sent a bulletin to transit agencies on Friday repeating past warnings to be on guard for attacks on mass transit systems, and identifying hydrogen peroxide-based explosives as a specific risk. That was in connection with the arrest of an Afghan man in Colorado and an alleged plot to use such explosives.

The federal security bulletin specifically mentioned Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

"We have no specific information from intelligence sources that would lead us to believe there is a threat to our system at this time, yet [transit police] officers remain vigilant," Transit Police Chief Michael A. Taborn said in the Metro statement.

Last October, when Metro announced a new policy in which teams of transit officers could randomly open the bags passengers wanted to bring through the fare gates, I expressed very strong concern about it and continue to feel that way. Today's response, on the other hand, seems rational: The police are out there to protect the public, not to intimidate travelers.

Meanwhile, Metro is in line to receive $78.3 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security to enhance safety. The transit authority says $11 million will fund 25 new positions for the transit police, including three explosive detecting canine teams, 20 additional officers to form new anti-terrorism teams, a bomb response liaison officer and an intelligence analyst.

Also financed through these grants: surveillance cameras on rail cars and buses, at Metrorail station entrances and at ventilation shafts and tunnel entrances, plus design and installation of a video monitoring system on train cars.

By Robert Thomson  |  September 22, 2009; 3:08 PM ET
Categories:  Metro , Safety , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock  
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Next: NTSB Issues New Safety Advisory to Metro


"Our system is as safe as an open system can be."

Safe from terrorist, perhaps. Safe from incompetence of Metro employees, that is questionable.

$78.3 million in DHS grants would be better spent on new equipment and new employees to replace the ones they need to fire.

Posted by: prokaryote | September 22, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Man come on.. Metro's security is so porous it's practically a matter of when not if. DHS should be doing penetration testing like GAO did on the airline screeners. How hard can it be to get terror materials by the Metro cops shooting the breeze and hanging out with their buddies? At the Pentagon bus station the Pentagon Police patrol and inspect trash cans.. I'd be shocked if I saw a Metro cop doing anything like that..

Posted by: john65001 | September 22, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to say, but at times, it is hard to tell who the enemies are. Alerting police and the FBI to a terroristic plot to murder children and women, and to acts of terrorism (food tainting) taking place at a supermarket catering to thousands of people, put me at odds with them following their demands for money ($900) ‘in order (for them) to investigate”. As alert and as vigilant as I am, since that incident with “those in authorities”, especially when I read lately as to how the mob “buys” police officers/detectives… etc, one doesn’t know whom to trust anymore, and people may lose their lives.

Posted by: Shanan1 | September 22, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

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