Washington, DC

On Thursday, WMATA issued a press release saying:

Metro Transit Police today advised customers they will conduct random inspections of carry-on items, as part of the continuously changing law enforcement programs designed to keep the system safe.

Based on programs now successfully used in New York and Boston, Metro Transit Police will randomly identify carry-on items for inspection at station entrances.

“This adds another layer of security to our system,” said MTPD Chief Michael A. Taborn. “The program will increase visible methods of protecting our passengers and employees, while minimizing inconvenience to riders.”

The inspections will be conducted in conjunction with Transportation Security Administration officials and are expected to take only minutes and are designed to be non-intrusive, as police will randomly select bags or packages to check for hazardous materials using ionization technology as well as K-9 units trained to detect explosive materials. Carry on items will generally not be opened and physically inspected unless the equipment indicates a need for further inspection.

Anyone who is randomly selected and refuses to submit their carry-on items for inspection will be prohibited from bringing those items into the station. Customers who encounter a baggage checkpoint at a station entrance may choose not to enter the station if they would prefer not to submit their carry-ons for inspection.

Given the recent threats metro has received do you think this is a good idea? We actually spoke about this when it came up a previous time back in Oct. 2008. At that time most people thought the searches were an invasion of their privacy. Do you still feel that these searches are an invasion of your privacy? Or do you think they are necessary to ensure your safety?

I don’t mean to be out of line but what if a mass transit system were hit by a bomber somewhere in a major US city would you then change your mind? Or do you think that would lead us into slippery slope territory?

For those that are opposed – is the major objection the invasion of privacy or the feeling that it will provide a false sense of security or the feeling that it will slow down the commute while not really serving as a proper deterrent?


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