Metro Begins Random Bag Searches

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:02 PM EDT
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Metro implemented its new bag search policy Tuesday morning at several stations in the system.

Officers started randomly selecting commuters to search at 7:30 a.m. at the College Park Metro station. The Washington Post reported that searches were also happening at the Braddock Road station.

The officers will swab people's bags in order to look for explosives. That swab would then be run through a test in a process that Metro says will take "only minutes." A manual search would follow any positive hit for explosives.

Adam Gerard told us on Facebook that he was stopped at the Braddock Road Metro station at about 8:15 a.m.

"They swabbed my bag and analyzed it with their little machine. My bag was not opened. Took about 30 seconds at the longest. Still annoyed with the process though and doubt it increases our safety much at all. It's just more security theater and wasting money that could be used more effectively elsewhere."

WTOP's Adam Tuss tweeted that the searches ended before 9 a.m. at both locations. He tweeted that at the Braddock Road location, "no one refused, one man was stopped for 8 minutes, others stopped for about 45 seconds."

A group called the Montgomery County Civil Right Coalition has started a petition against the searches.

"I think it's not in accordance with the Fourth Amendment," said Thomas Nephew of the Coalition. "To search people without good cause is not constitutional."

Most commuters NBC Washington's Melissa Mollet talked to Tuesday weren't bothered by the change. Some even said they're happy with the extra security.

The plan has been talked about since 2008. But only now, after two recent Metro threats, has it been put into effect.

You can refuse the bag check, but if you do, you can't ride. Officers will ask you to leave the station.

Similar searches are already in place in New York City and Boston.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that an explosive device was found Tuesday in a subway car in Rome, Italy.

The ANSA and Apcom news agency said the device was found Tuesday inside a train during a stop in Rebibbia, on the outskirts of Rome.

"Bomb disposal experts are looking into what it is -- whether it's a dangerous device that was capable of exploding or an inactive object," Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno was quoted as saying by Apcom.

Apcom said the device had been left in a grocery bag underneath a seat, and was spotted by the conductor in the morning.

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