Metro Transit Police to Add Anti-Terrorism Teams

Wednesday, August 5, 2009; 3:45 PM

The federal government will pay almost $10 million for the Metro Transit Police to put 20 officers on five anti-terrorism teams, Metro officials announced Wednesday.

The department has a Special Response Team, said spokeswoman Cathy Asato, but the force has not had specific teams focused on counterterrorism. A Department of Homeland Security transit grant program will provide the money to create them.

"They're going to recruit from within to form these anti-terror teams," Asato said, "then we'll recruit 20 new officers to fill their spots."

The 420-member force will increase by almost 5 percent as a result of the hires. Metro said that the four-person units will increase law enforcement visibility in stations and that the teams would increase random patrols of Metro facilities and vehicles, respond more quickly to suspicious packages and gather intelligence that might be shared with federal law enforcement officials.

The Transit Police received $1.8 million in other DHS grants. Most of that money will be spent on adding chemical detection sensors at two stations. Citing security concerns, Asato declined to say which Metro stations would receive the sensors and which already have the technology. The rest of the grant money will go to upgrade the radio communication network in Prince George's County.

-- James Hohmann

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