The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is backing away from plans to conduct random bag searches en masse, despite the revelation that a man was allegedly planning an attack on the system.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, was arrested Oct. 27 for allegedly planning an attack on the Metro system. Ahmed was never a threat to the public but authorities arrested him in the midst of a sting operation, according to the FBI, which said Ahmed planned to use firearms and other weapons.
WMATA spokeswoman Cathy Asato said Metro will not implement bag searches to prevent such attacks.
“Bag searches are things that we have discussed and haven’t implemented at this point,” Asato said.
Asato said Metro and Metropolitan Police Department officers can conduct random bag searches if officials have reasonable suspicions about an individual or an individual’s bag, but the program is not implemented en masse.
“The Metro and police department already have an ongoing security program that includes random and unpredictable searches at stations and facilities,” Asato said.
Some Metro riders like junior Elliot Upin are not confident that random bag searches would help improve safety on the Metro. “I can see why the Metro would want to conduct random bag searches, but it’s not practical. I’ve never felt unsafe and I don’t feel that random bag searches would help improve safety,” Upin said.
Shenae Watson of Arlington, Va., said she is skeptical of bag searches.
“The Metro system has enough issues as it is. I think officials understand how much of a time crunch passengers are in,” Watson said. “I know safety is a huge issue, but bag searches are just going to be a hassle.”