Lena H. Sun
The Washington Post
October 28, 2008
Metro officials yesterday announced plans to immediately begin random searches of backpacks, purses and other bags in a move they say will protect riders and also guard their privacy and minimize delays.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The program is modeled after one begun three years ago in New York that has withstood legal challenges. However, experts said it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of such searches, beyond assuring the public that police are being vigilant. New York officials declined to say what they have found in their searches; none of the other transit systems conducting random searches have found any explosives, officials said.
Metro officials said the program was not in response to a specific threat but prompted by increased security concerns before next week’s election and the inauguration as well as by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and later bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, London and elsewhere.
Although Metro police said the program will begin immediately, they would not say which of their 86 rail stations or more than 12,000 bus stops would be subject to inspection on any given day. On some days, there might be no inspections, or there might be several. Fifteen officers have been trained to perform searches, and more will be trained, officials said.