- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 7, 2005

Metro Transit Police officials say the agency has added patrols and enhanced equipment in the months since terrorists attacked the train system in Madrid in March 2004 to prevent against an attack like the one yesterday in London.

The agency spent $180,000 for specialized equipment, including chemical-weapon identifiers, portable X-ray kits, protective police gear and surveillance cameras.

“Post-Madrid, there obviously was more of a focus on explosive detection,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson. “We were able to purchase some extra equipment.”

An agency spokeswoman said officials have identified $143 million in additional security needs, but have yet to receive funding.

“Some would say there is a disproportionate focus, with both funding and other things, on aviation security,” Chief Hanson said.

She also said the District has been “ahead of the curve” in counterterrorism training. However, the technology to detect terrorist threats more quickly still is developing, and transit agencies cannot afford to finance such efforts, Chief Hanson said.

“That has to come from science and technology or other places,” she said.

Still, Metro riders remain the best defense against terrorism, she said.

“Our best resource is people, and that’s folks who see things, hear things or know things and need to report it,” Chief Hanson said.

Lisa Farbstein, a Metro spokeswoman, said about 1 million people ride the system’s 700,000 train trips and 500,000 bus trips each day.

Bomb-sniffing dogs will search the Virginia Railway Express trains today, instead of at the end of the month, as was scheduled. Bomb-sniffing dogs patrol the rails two times per month at unannounced times, said Mark Roeber, a spokesman.

Riders on MARC trains also will see police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs on the trains and at stations, Maryland Transit Administration Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said.

Mr. Flanagan said the state also has established additional security measures that are not visible.

In addition, Amtrak is increasing the number of officers and canine teams at its stations and on its trains. Officials declined to reveal details.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports, has arranged additional patrols. Spokeswoman Tara Hamilton declined to reveal specifics and said any other security changes would have to be ordered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, security remains high, Mr. Flanagan said.

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