- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2004

As Officer Anthony Montgomery walked along the Metro rail platform at Union Station, the black Labrador re-

triever at his side stopped beside a bench.

The bomb-sniffing dog named Sabre barked at a piece of torn packaging paper, perhaps a candy wrapper, under the bench.

“No noise,” Officer Montgomery ordered after looking to see what had elicited the dog’s barks. The dog fell silent, and Officer Montgomery continued his sweep of the station.

Officer Montgomery is a Metro Transit Police officer assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Detection unit. The unit’s job is to protect the transit system from terrorist attacks.

Previously, he was a plainclothes transit officer who rode buses and trains mostly looking for petty hoodlums and occasional offenders of the no-smoking and no-eating rules.

As federal anti-terrorism funding became more plentiful, the bomb detection unit was doubled in size to 14 officers.

Officer Montgomery was attracted by the elite nature of the job, which required 10 weeks of specialized training in bomb materials, dog handling and “passenger assessment,” he says.

“It’s more exciting,” he says. “It added another aspect to the job.”

During the training, Officer Montgomery was introduced to his canine helper, Sabre. Recent terrorism scares have kept the duo busy.

“We’re getting suspicious-package calls a lot more often these days,” he says.

On one memorable occasion, a Metro passenger left a suitcase on a train. Transit operators took the train out of service while officers put on bomb-protection gear and opened the suitcase to find someone’s clothing.

Nearly all of Officer Montgomery’s calls to search packages end in the same way.

“I hate to be a party pooper, but I really haven’t had anything,” he said, about the lack of bombs found on Washington’s transit system.

According to the September 11 commission’s recent report, transit systems are one of the weak links in America’s homeland-defense effort.

The report said, “… railroads and mass transit remain hard to protect because they are so accessible and extensive.”

Metro’s response to the threat has included adding surveillance cameras, installing sensors that can detect dangerous chemicals and removing trash receptacles that could be used to conceal a bomb.

“It hurts because it makes it a little junkier, but it helps to fight terrorism,” Officer Montgomery said.

He wakes up at about 4 a.m. every workday so he can make it to his 5 a.m. roll call at the police substation near the Huntington Metro station.

After getting his “sector” assignment, he drives with his dog in a police cruiser to a Metro station.

A “sweep” consists of leading Sabre into corners, alongside farecard vending machines and snaking between passengers carrying bags.

One woman carrying a large brown purse at Union Station jumped as Sabre approached to sniff for traces of chemical explosives.

After he finishes with one station, Officer Montgomery rides the Metro trains to the next station for another sweep. He tries to avoid getting more than two stations away from his cruiser in case he gets an emergency call.

Other times, he patrols bus stops, rail yards and Metro maintenance shops.

He finishes his day at about 2:30 p.m., then either returns to the Huntington substation for an update on any pressing issues or drives home. Sabre goes with him as a live-in pet.

“You can pet him; he won’t bother you,” Officer Montgomery tells a boy in a T-shirt and jeans shorts who seemed to take an interest in the dog outside Union Station.

In his off time, 31-year-old Officer Montgomery likes to jog or ride his motorcycle.

He graduated from Bowie State University in 1995 with a degree in criminal justice. He joined the Metro Transit Police shortly after graduation and plans to make his career there.

The thing he likes best about his job is “seeing the people,” he said.

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