Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Metro launches terrorism drills at Union Station
Metro Transit Police officers with dogs and bomb technicians staged a large-scale security operation in one of the system's busiest stations Tuesday morning, part of a broader effort to bolster security in the rail system.

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Metro Transit Police staged their largest anti-terrorism sweep ever during Tuesday morning's rush hour, as about 50 officers -- some toting M-4 rifles and others guiding bomb-sniffing dogs -- took up position in Union Station in a new initiative aimed at discouraging attacks.

In coming months, they plan to hold similar drills for the effort, dubbed Blue TIDE (Terrorism Identification and Deterrence Effort).

Robert Rotz, 50, did a double take when he ran into two officers wearing body armor and shouldering rifles.

"This will make people think twice if they are trying to do something," said Rotz, a computer specialist who commutes from Shady Grove.

A delegation of senior Indian police officers observed Tuesday's drill. "They are very interested in the technology used in the United States to help prevent attacks," said Deputy Chief Erhart M. Olson of the Metro Transit Police.

Metro is planning exercises this month modeled after terrorist attacks in Madrid, London and Mumbai. About 200 to 300 police officers and other emergency responders from across the region will take part in tactical exercises Feb. 12, 13 and 24 that will include simulations of the bombing of a Metrobus, an explosion in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stations, and shooters at the Friendship Heights Metro station.

Under the State Department anti-terrorism assistance program, Olson and Amtrak Police Chief John O'Connor traveled to India last summer to learn about rail system security there after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Metro's new 20-member antiterrorism police unit is also working to increase the information that can be gleaned from surveillance cameras in the Metro system, said Lt. G.W. Burns III, who is in charge of the effort.

"We like to throw in a new tactic, so the bad guys don't know what to expect," Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said.

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