WASHINGTON—The Metro transit police chief said the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will increase patrol presence and canine officers, and search bags in the wake of in Paris terrorist attacks Friday.
“All these… are to assure riders as well as employees that Metro operates a safe system,” said Ron Pavlik, Metro transit chief of police during a media conference at Gallery Place Station Monday.
Pavlik said Metro police officers will conduct random bag searches for explosives at the entrances of Metro stations across the system, but it will be quick and not inconvenience riders.
According to a Metro press release, more than 20 K9 teams will investigate in Metro stations, surrounding areas and other infrastructure.
“With random explosive screening, our canine officers it’s a layered approach. It’s not a one-stop shop.”
The Metro police chief said the number of officers will not increase at specific stations, but across the system. The randomness of placement is to prevent predictability.
“The randomness is key, you know. We don’t want to do the same thing every day, day in and day out.”
Pavlik said riders should contact Metro Transit police if they see anything suspicious.
Riders can call Metro Transit police at 202-962-2121 to report suspicious activity or unattended bags, or text “mymtpd” (696873), Pavlik said.
In an emergency, riders should call 911, according to Metro public information.
Metro Transit police presence was increased starting Friday evening, said Pavlik. He said he could not specify how long the special measures will last.
Union Station was temporarily closed Saturday evening and trains bypassed the station for two rounds due to police activity, said Sherri Ly, WMATA public information officer. Trains then resumed and the Massachusetts Avenue entrance was reopened.
Jeff, a North Bethesda resident who did not give his last name, said increased security is a good thing, but he is not looking for inconvenience or fare increases as payment.
The North Bethesda man said he takes the Metro to work daily and he does not feel unsafe riding Metrorail.
Daniel Frank works in Rockville and said an increase in officers and protection on the Metro would not make him feel different, but it’s a sensible choice.
“It seems kind of standard especially considering the incident in Paris,” said Frank, a D.C. resident.
Increased visibility of police officers on the trains would make him feel safer, but it would not necessarily enhance security levels, Frank said. He said he does not feel unsafe on Metro.