Friday, December 17, 2010

Poll: Do You Support or Oppose Random Bag Searches in Metro?

The police will be conducting random bag searches at Metro stations.  Do you think that these screenings enhance security or are simply security theater?

Here is Metro's announcement:
The inspections are expected to take only minutes and are designed to be non-intrusive, as police will randomly select bags or packages to check for hazardous materials using ionization technology as well as K-9 units trained to detect explosive materials. Carry-on items will generally not be opened and physically inspected unless the equipment indicates a need for further inspection...Customers who encounter a baggage checkpoint at a station entrance may choose not to enter the station if they would prefer not to submit their carry-ons for inspection.
According to the Washington Post, the screenings will happen along these lines: 
The searches will take one or two minutes and will involve swabbing bags with special paper, which will be analyzed using a hand-held device that tests for explosives. A bag that tests positive will be double-checked by a bomb-sniffing dog. Only bags that test positive will be opened.
Passengers who refuse inspections will be allowed to leave the Metro station, but may be questioned. 

Metro's posted a video on YouTube about these bag checks, which you can view here.

Are random bag searches a good idea? Do they enhance security by deterring terrorists? And if they are a good idea, are they worth the inconvenience/civil liberties trade-off? On the one hand, some security specialists believe that the screenings have a deterrent effect; as Brian Michael Jenkins explained: "You put these into place because there's no question that these types of security measures do act as deterrent." (He's director of the Transportation Security Center at the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University.) On the other hand are the thousands of Metro riders who can see that there are dozens of Metro stations that will have no security. 

You can vote in All Life Is Local's poll.

1 comment:

  1. If these bag searches won't catch terrorists, why do them? I just don't get it.