DC Metro Police Searches Discourage Riders, Not Terrorists

Washington, DC’s Metro system recently enacted a random police search policy for its riders, citing increased security concerns for the decision. But in reality, the new policy does nothing to protect people from terrorist attacks and pushes people away from public transit and into cars.[social_buttons]

Which is the bigger threat: a terrorist attack on a train or the greenhouse gases that spew from cars stuck in rush hour traffic?

The DC Metro stations will place clear signs posted at the stations that riders are subject to search. In addition, according to the transit authority, riders will have the ability to reject search and opt to leave the premises instead.

Now let’s think about this. Would a terrorist willingly open their bag to expose a bomb, or would he or she simply refuse and try again later, in hopes that they are not randomly searched the second time?

The policy assumes the potential terrorist attack will be so poorly planned that those executing it wouldn’t bother to check what the policy is on bag searches. I think we learned from September 11th that terrorists are not stupid and tend to plan ahead.

However, this law will affect everyday riders of public transit in Washington, DC. The police have specifically said that they will arrest anyone who is found with an illegal item, including marijuana, some knives and pepper sprays, or any other type of contraband. As civilians are targeted through the program, word could spread and result in decreased public transit ridership.

Flexyourrights.org has published a guide for DC that explains in detail how to politely refuse to be searched. The only way to avoid it is to leave the station, which many people would not be willing to do because, obviously, they are usually trying to arrive somewhere by a certain time.

According to appellate and Supreme Court rulings in the past, the program is totally legal. But really, if not for constitutionality reasons, the program should be overturned due to its glaring ineffectiveness.

Photo Credit: Jm3 on Flickr under Creative Commons license

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