US

Random bag searches on the DC Metro await final verdict

Photo of Steven Nelson
Steven Nelson
Associate Editor

The Washington, D.C. Metro system’s board of directors will meet Thursday to discuss whether to discontinue its controversial random bag search program.

On January 5, Metro’s Riders’ Advisory Council recommended that the board discontinue the random bag searches “because of significant unanswered questions about the program, it potential intrusion on civil liberties, and a lack of meaningful public discussion before implementation.”

The talking points for the Metro Transit Police note that the searches are not in response to any specific threat. “While there is no specific or credible threat to the system at this time, this program is part of our changing security posture.” However, the police support the searches.

The outcome of Thursday’s board meeting is far from certain. The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition quotes a board member who, at a previous meeting, said that he was supportive of the searches. “Darn it, when they tell me that there’s a threat I’m going to believe them,” said the member.

The DC Bill of Rights Coalition and the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, who jointly launched a petition against the searches in December, are asking riders to contact board members in advance of the meeting.

  • BMF

    The Constitution protects all citizens from unreasonable search and seizure without probably cause.

    This is a slippery slope that governments have always taken advantage of throughout history. Random searches without a warrant based on probable cause is unconstitutional. Once random searches without probable cause are allowed, there is nothing to prevent that concept from spreading to everything we do. Random searches in restaurants, malls, on sidewalks, while driving, or anywhere the government can claim any theoretical threat of potential violence.

    Personally, I think the TSA searches boarding aircraft are unconstitutional as well. Everyone is searched (except of course airport employees who have access to luggage and parked aircraft) without probable cause.

    They got away with that, so now random searches are beginning on the subways. Heck, buses have been blown up by terrorists, so why not random searches on buses. A bomber tried to blow up Time Square, so why not random searches throughout all of NYC? And everyone got searched entering the Super Bowl.

    I’m telling you, this isn’t going to stop unless we, the people, put the brakes on.

    I wouldn’t mind it too much if the government said it was only a temporary measure until the technology could be developed to establish probable cause before the searches. But the government has made no such announcement. I fear that our government has usurped the constitution as the easiest solution to a difficult problem and has been allowed to not only get away with it, but to expand those violations or our rights into many other areas.

    Chicago, my friends, now has more than 10,000 surveillance cameras operational. And the city will not provide any information about how they are being used. I should have the right to come and go places without government surveillance. The opportunity for abuse is breathtaking. Governments have never exercised discretion when give this sort of power.

    We need to start challenging these actions in court and electing politicians who will defend our constitutional rights.

  • jjsmithers

    Random will then become “all”. After that, TSA will be expanded (more union members) to do the groping. It never just stops– the government types just keep pushing.

    Those who are dismissing this as just a temporary measure, or the sheep who go along with it because “It will help keep us safe” will, of course, be the ones that the media shows us on TV.

    We are losing our liberty at an incredible pace.

  • mapletree

    If these unlawful searches continue, you might as well shred the Constitution because it will be meaningless.