Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Follow-Up To Posting Of July 23, 2005

Metro Bolsters Staff Training On Security
More Frequent Instruction To Include Janitorial Crew
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

All citizens should be on heightened alert and should take appropriate steps so as to prevent a terrorist attack of the same type as the 7/7 London bombings. Metro officials are now taking steps to promote more efficiency in their responses to reports of suspicious items. Excerpts from the Washington Post article state the following:

"Starting next month, Metro will give quarterly security training to more than 1,100 station managers, train operators and janitors, prompted by the bombings in London, transit officials said yesterday.

"Currently, those employees undergo security training when they are hired. The subway's 469 station managers receive yearly refresher courses, and its 475 train operators must know security procedures in order to be recertified every two years.

"But Steven A. Feil, Metro's chief operating officer for rail, said yesterday that the level of preparation is insufficient. 'You can't have awareness training every two years if you're in Code Orange,' Feil said. 'It's not enough.'

"The decision comes after an episode on a Blue Line train last week in which transit officials allowed an unattended backpack to travel on a train through two stations before inspecting it.

"The incident sparked panic among riders, some of whom ran from the train, and raised questions about Metro's response to potential threats during times of elevated fear about terrorism....

"Metro's investigation into last week's Blue Line incident continued yesterday, and officials said they had yet to take disciplinary action....

"The operator, who has been in her job for seven years, contacted Metro's central control and was ordered to inspect the backpack, [Metro spokeswoman] Smith said. The operator walked to the last car to look at the backpack, which was on the floor in the aisle, and decided that it did not pose a threat, Smith said. She made that determination based on Metro's criteria, which includes checking for exposed wires, leaking fluid and vapors.

"Satisfied that the bag was innocuous, the train operator returned to her cab and moved the train out of the station. Leaving the backpack untouched in the last car was mistake...

"'It appears the operator made an error in judgment after determining that the backpack was not suspicious,'" Smith said.

"'Instead, she should have either taken it herself to the end of the line and returned it to lost and found, or handed it off to the station manager at Federal Triangle. She also apparently did not clearly communicate to customers on the train."

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