Bag Search Refusers Will be Watched

By Tim Persinko
|  Monday, Jan 17, 2011  |  Updated 1:15 PM EDT
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Bag Search Refusers Will be Watched

NBCWashington.com

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Sure you can say no to a bag search.  But that does not mean Metro will leave you alone.

Those who refuse the new random bag searches by Metro Transit police will be observed by law enforcement, MTPD chief Michael Taborn told a meeting of the WMATA Riders Advisory Council last week.

On the WMATA website, riders are advised that they can choose not to have their bags checked by leaving the station.  Last Wednesday, the Riders Advisory Council asked Chief Taborn specifically what happens to those who "opt-out." 

"Well I can tell you without any uncertainty that that person would be observed," Taborn said.  "And what that means to you is different what that means to me, but that person is observed."

The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition posted video from the meeting documenting the exchange.

The Riders Council asked the Transit security head several times for clarification on the bag search policy.   Asked a different time what happens to individuals who choose not to have their bags searched, Taborn said:

"What happens is that according to our policy, that person is free to go.  But with regards to law enforcement initiatives, there will be some actions.  There will be some observations, because we need to establish why that particular person chose not to do it.  So therefore, there will be some activity that's afoot." 

The chief's answers did not sit well with the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition.  "This issue deserves closer examination by the public," Thomas Nephew wrote on the group's website.  "Whatever Chief Taborn may believe, we know that we have the right to remain silent, to not be searched without cause as we go about our daily affairs, and to not face scrutiny for insisting on that."

Customers who refuse to submit to a bag search are refused entry to Metro trains or busses.

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