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Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 05/02/2011

D.C. adds security to religious sites and public transportation, but no ‘specific threats’

The District will have increased security near and around Metro stations and mosques and synagogues in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing, according to Mayor Vincent C. Gray and police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.

But the city has not received any “specific threats at this time,” the mayor and chief said during the mayor’s monthly online chat Monday with The Washington Post.

“Like any metropolitan area with a large transit system, we remain vigilant in monitoring and ensuring public safety. Metro has done a great job in alerting passengers to be aware of their surroundings,” Lanier and Gray said. “Metro is coordinating with TSA and MPD. Customers will see an increase in the number of officers throughout the system.”

The city is receiving support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Lanier and Millicent West, director of the city’s homeland security agency, who joined the chat. “There is a shared responsibility between the Federal Government and the District of Columbia to ensure the protection of life and property,” West said.

Asked how long increased security will remain at sites of public transportation, West said, “as long as necessary.”

But Lanier said the police department’s normal coverage of the city would not decrease. “Public safety in our neighborhoods will not be diminished,” she said.

Lanier downplayed a question of whether the police department’s current staffing issues — “down 400 police positions and 300 civilians” — could impede efforts to heighten security.

“Again, I feel that we have adequate resources to deal with increased threats without pulling officers from the neighborhoods,” Lanier said, reiterating the support of federal Homeland Security.

Lanier later said the police department’s reserve corps will be used. “We have over a hundred reserve officers, nearly 30 of which have full police powers. They will all be used to assist us. They come from many backgrounds and offer a lot of other resources in addition to uniform presence,” she said.

Gray added that the city could not give details of their duties. “They will be deployed to the most critical situations as warranted,” the mayor said.

West said schools, as well, “have emergency plans in place. Training and exercise opportunities have been and will continue to be provided throughout the system.”

As for an evacuation, West said the city has 16 evacuation routes.

“Every emergency does not warrant evacuation, and residents should become familiar with ‘shelter-in-place’ procedures,” West said.

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By  |  02:15 PM ET, 05/02/2011

 
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