Random bag searches on the DC Metro await final verdict

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.