Another senseless search policy

So the Metro system here in the DC area is going to start searching passengers.  Oh, wait, not passengers, just their belongings (like there’s a difference).

I wrote, using the “contact us” form on their page, and received this in return:

Thank you for writing to Metro regarding our new Security Inspection Program.  The program which will be random, unannounced and focused on explosive detection is aimed to deter terrorist attacks and increase the overall safety of the Metro system.  Passengers can expect bag inspections at any Metro facility when circumstances warrant heightened vigilance.  However, it should not be assumed that there is a specific threat to the Metro system when we are conducting random bag inspections.

Prior to launching the Security Inspection Program, Metro Transit Police met with officials at the Transportation Security Administration and transit agencies in New York, Boston and New Jersey where police regularly conduct inspections of passengers¿ belongings.  Legal Authority to inspect packages brought into the Metro system has been established by the court system on similar types of inspections in mass transit properties, airports, military facilities and courthouses.

On Monday, October 27, Metro began posting large red and white signs at Metroail station entrances informing passengers about the inspections.  Inspection points will be set up at Metro facilities and passengers will go through inspections before entering a rail station or boarding a bus and before paying a fare.  The inspections are estimated to take only a few seconds and will be conducted by specially trained Metro Transit Police Officers and explosive-detection dogs.

Transit Police will randomly select a number, such as five.  Then every fifth person will be asked to step aside and allow their carry on items to be inspected.  Additionally, passengers displaying suspicious behavior may also be subject to having their bags searched.  Individuals who refuse to have their bag or bags inspected will not be allowed to enter the Metro system with those carry-on items.  They will be free to leave the system with their items.

The bag inspection program is an ongoing effort to protect Metro riders, employees and facilities.  Passenger cooperation will help to ensure the program is fast, smooth and successful.  For additional information about our new security initiative program, please go to our website, www.metroopensdoors.com.  Also, http://www.wmata.com/faqs/preview.cfm?faqID=50 offers a list of Frequently Asked Questions about our Security Inspection Program.  Thank you again for taking the time to share your comments with us.  I hope this information helps to address your concerns.

To speak to a Blue-Orange Line Customer Service Representative for Comments, Complaints or Suggestions, please call 301-562-4606 weekdays between the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. You can leave a message at all other times or e-mail us at www.wmata.com.

If you ever need to speak with a Customer Information Agent for assistance with general questions, please call 202-637-7000; 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Web site is also a valuable resource for customers to find out more details about trip planning, bus and rail fares, service disruptions and other information.

Sincerely,

Paul Bumbry
Rail Transportation Customer Service Manager

In other words, “Shut up and color.  We think it’s legal, and if you ride the Blue or Orange lines you can call us, else stick to e-mail.  I”m not really addressing your concerns, but you’re stupid enough to think you got a letter so you’re okay.”

It astounds me that in the DC area – where liberty and freedom and constitutionality ought to be high on people’s minds, an area steeped in the history of men such as George Mason, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, an area demographically wealthier and more educated than most metropolitan areas of the US – there’s been so little outcry.  A number of letters to the editor, for example, say things like “It might catch terrorists” or “If you have nothing to hide, why worry?”  These must be the same people who don’t mind the Patriot Act, or the loss of other civil liberties, because they have nothing to hide, but everyone else, of course, is suspect.

Can’t wait until this truly “random” searching causes even further delays during rush hour.  You see, in this area some will give away all their liberties, but raise hell if they’re delayed during their commute.

Well, I did quit riding Metro during the week some years ago, when the bureaucrats in their infinite wisdom decided to solve their embezzlement problems ( parking attendant contractors stealing money ) by making the patrons buy a $5 farecard, and raising parking rates.  On weekends, you don’t pay to park, so I rode on weekends.

Now, where did I put those cards that say “I do not consent to search.”?

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Published in: on November 3, 2008 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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