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Metro Increases Security

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Metro officials are increasing security at Metrorail stations, on trains and in Metrobuses as a result of yesterday’s alert level being raised to code Orange in Washington, DC.


The increased security is a result of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge’s announcement of an orange alert for financial institutions in Washington. He specifically noted areas near the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings as areas in need of special security vigilance. There are two Metrorail stations in the vicinity of those buildings–Farragut North on the Red Line and Farragut West on the Orange/Blue Line. Today, DC Mayor Anthony Williams also elevated the District of Columbia’s threat level to Code Orange.


“We are taking precautionary measures to assure our customers that we are doing everything that we can to make sure they can use our system without incident,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson. “Our customers are likely to see our special response teams of officers carrying additional weaponry with a canine accompanying them. We also are asking our customers to be an extension of our eyes and ears, and let us know if they see anything unusual.”


Metro Transit Police have deployed the special response teams and explosive detection canine teams to conduct sweeps of Metrorail stations and trains. Metrorail station restrooms in the District of Columbia have been temporarily closed for security reasons. Station restrooms in the other jurisdictions remain available for customers to use.


“The presence of our special response teams and explosive detection canine teams does not indicate any specific, impending danger,” Chief Hanson explained. “These are precautionary measures intended to add another layer of security protection.”


Transit police officers will be wearing their bright florescent visibility vests so that customers who notice anything unusual can quickly spot and alert a police officer. More officers will be on patrol starting today.


Metro Transit Police also are staffing the Metropolitan Police Department’s Joint Operations Command Center, and will continue to receive regular updates from the FBI Terrorism Task Force and the region’s chiefs of police.


Metro officials have increased the frequency of announcements on trains and in rail stations to inform customers of the increased police presence, asking customers to keep an eye open for suspicious activity and to remind customers to take their packages with them.


“We are also taking some additional security measures that are not visible to our customers and are designed to be that way,” she said. “Vigilance is more important than ever. We continue to ask our customers to help us.”


Metro has an ongoing dialog with its customers, and officials ask that the customers continue with that partnership.


Metro customers should be aware of suspicious people or unusual activity, unattended items, and smoke or odd smells. “If you see someone leave a package, politely bring it to their attention,” explains Chief Hanson, who taped a special safety message that is now airing in the Metro system. “If you see suspicious behavior, find an unattended package or witness something unusual, stay away from it and tell the bus operator, train operator, police officer or station manager immediately. Transit Police can be contacted at 202-962-2121.”


“Metrorail customers need to make sure they are aware of their surroundings so that if an emergency situation arises, they are prepared for action,” Chief Hanson said.


There are several things that Metrorail passengers should be aware of in case of an emergency. Customers should know that there are emergency intercoms inside each rail car at either end of the car. They can be used to report suspicious or unusual activity, or unattended items to the train operator. Customers should know that inside each rail car next to the center doors, there are emergency procedures posted. All passengers should familiarize themselves with these procedures. If a train stops, passengers should listen for the operator’s instructions and follow them quickly and calmly. And customers should never block doors from closing because a train can only move if all doors are closed.


“While waiting for a train to enter a station, customers should familiarize themselves with all of the entrances to the station in case they have to take a different exit,” Chief Hanson noted. “They should locate the emergency intercoms on specially marked pylons and use them to report suspicious people, unusual activity, or unattended items to the station manager.”


Metrobus riders should follow the bus operator’s instructions. Emergency exit procedures are listed on windows, ceiling escape hatches, and on doors.

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