Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cop's Drawn Pistol Terrifies Rider

In light of Metro's simulated "active shooter" exercise, we thought this post appropriate. In all of 2009, at Metro's 10 most dangerous stations, there were 19 reports of assaults.

From Spike:
On Feb. 15, at 5:15 p.m., on the Green Line toward Greenbelt, the train was held at Shaw station for about 15 minutes while a blue-clad man with white "police" on his shirt back very purposefully walked through train cars with a pistol drawn, pointing it at the ground.


Of course, there was no explanation from Metro other than "we're holding for a few minutes."

Imagine the carnage of a shoot out in a Metro car or on a subway platform?

Not content with terrifying riders with routine mechanical failures, Metro now allows police with guns drawn to walk through cars looking for ... what? Coffee drinkers? Cheetos eaters? Weapon toting gangsters?

Everyone in the car sat there, eyes wide open, mouths agape.

Is Metro going for its own reality TV show?

Could we expect Virginians with permits to carry concealed weapons to join in the posse and shoot out?

What's the policy on this?

Other items:
Metro ignored warnings about mixed brand signaling equipment (WaPo)
Weather may have halted repairs before crash (Fox)
Tri-State Oversight Committee has possible conflict of interest (WAMU)


Anonymous said...

I'd say that's a case of the person reporting this not being very familiar with police procedures.

"Excuse me folks, we need to hold for a few minutes at this station while police search from car to car for an armed felon on the loose."

And yes, the cop should have the gun un-holstered so he can get to it in a hurry, and yes, it should be pointing at the ground. It's how they get trained.

I'm a huge fan of poking holes in everything WMATA does stupid, but this isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a case of whether or not you think guns beget violence or prevent it.

I'm in the former camp.

Joshua Davis said...

Announcing to any criminals on board that "We are holding for several minutes while we look for the guy that just robbed someone, in the meantime feel free to dart out a door," would be the epitome of stupid.

Since when do people complain that the police sometimes have to use drawn weapons to keep us safe?

Also was this Metro police or some other force?

Anonymous said...

Sure there is some crime on Metro, but in all honesty, if you look at the statistics, it's really very safe. Is this because of aggressive policing? I don't think so. How many times have you seen a Metro Transit cop this week? Or last?

It's another bloated department of WMATA, filled with wannabe cops.

Brian said...

Wait, what? It's a bloated WMATA department, and the previous SENTENCE you complain about not seeing them anywhere? Pick a complaint and stick with it.

Anonymous said...

Police carry guns. Sometimes they take them out of the holster. That is the policy on this.

Anonymous said...

All you gunslingers come to the hood and hang out a while. You'll see why some are terrified of them no matter whose holding them.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the concept of a Metro Police outdated? I mean the only time I see them is when they're shooting the breeze with Metro workers in the stations. Surely, VAMDDC cops can do that themselves.

Anonymous said...

The main comment I "read" from the post is that there I am, quietly riding along and I see a cop with a gun in his hand walking through the cars. Metro probaby should not blatently say "killer/hoodlum/dangerous sh** on the loose" as it would cause panic. However, to say nothing at all makes me even more scared.

Has nothing to do with being familiar with police procedures. I am a civilian. I should not HAVE to learn police procedures.

Anonymous said...

I agree this is ridiculous. That entire train was terrorized by that gun wielding cop for probably no good reason. I can bet that every person in the car figured they were going to get shot by some stern faced trigger happy officer.

It's disgusting.

kidincredible said...

@ Anonymous:
If I recall correctly, the problem is that since WMATA isn't entirely in one jurisdiction, they need their own police force. It's a consequence of how they formed the interstate compact to allow Metro to happen.

Anonymous said...

And for the original post that asked to imagine the carnage of a shootout on the subway platform, you don't have to imagine it. Just go to youtube and lookup Balderas Shooting. Graphic Warning: people get shot at point blank range on the video.

Unsuck DC Metro said...

re: Balderas. WOW. Definitely graphic.

Anonymous said...

In another place, I would be concerned that the cop having his gun drawn meant there was danger from a criminal. On the Metro, I would be concerned that the cop was doing something rash or careless. Not fair to the Metro police, but that's how low Metro's overall reputation has sunk in my eyes.

Roma Tekovi said...

It was a "drill" funded by the 9M DHS anti-terrorist funding.

Remember, the one held in early February (the 4th, I think?) was "one of many to come."

Ask a kiosk manager. Ask a cop whose gun is holstered. Ask WaPo. Ask my husband who came home 3 hours late from this practice drill crap.

Read more here:

The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority said in a statement on Monday that it will hold exercises on Feb. 12, 13 and 24 along with other local and federal law enforcement and emergency agencies."

More details at the link I gave.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can already picture what's happening in the car:

"Greetings, everyone. This is the MTPD's newest recruit, Officer James Temp. He would like to let everyone know that he has a gun, and if he sees anyone blocking the doors, he will not hesitate to use it. That is all. We will be moving shortly. Green Line train to Greenbelt."

Anonymous said...

There are over 500,000 cops in this country - they carry guns. However, to see them with their guns drawn is extremely rare. My first thought would not be "Thats outrageous!!! Why haven't I been told whats going on!!! Why is this cretin intruding on my me time with my i-phone!!!" My first would be "how quickly and discretely can I separate myself from whatever the hell is going on that makes a police officer pull his gun?"

I can't imagine how intrusive an information society we would have to have in order for the police to know where I am at all times so they can fire a quick tweet to me to let me know that the other police personnel are whipping out their roscoes in my vicinity. Spike may want to live in the nurturing bosom of big brother, I will pass. I'll just let the Officer do his job and will be a good witness until I can get clear. By the account above, it was one Officer, not many, and I know Shaw is not empty at 5:15 pm either, so the lone Office must have done an adequate job in a crowded station to not land in the Wapo. I also imagine he has been put under the spot light because of this post anyway with the incredible power of the internet.

And ANYBODY who calls anybody else a "wannabee" needs a little help with their own self esteem and pettiness. Somebody actually doing something may be great, just OK or suck at whatever they do, but they are not a "wannabee."

Anonymous said...

If we're going to call out Metro for doing stupid things, or things that reflect bad customer service, or ignoring safety issues until it's too late, by all means, let's do it. But this isn't one of those situations.

None of us know what caused this officer to pull his gun and, as one of the previous commenters noted, if he did it without causing a scene he must have done whatever it was doing adequately. And if he had his gun out, that probably meant someone on the train meant to do harm. If the story is that a cop drew his gun, not that someone got shot by a robber at the Shaw station, things seem to have worked out okay.

Also, I'm all for Metro being more communicative about what's going on when there are delays, but do you really want the train operator to get on the PA and announce, "Attention, passengers. There's a madman with a gun in Car Number 4, but, please, nobody act like you know because he might start shooting. Everybody just play it cool." Think about it -- if you know, he knows.

So, as a regular Metro rider, I'm all for using this blog to shine a light on things that Metro should be doing better, but we need to use some editorial discretion in deciding what to post here. If Metro gets bad press for having cops doing their jobs, it's going to be forced to tell them to be less conspicuous and less effective -- and the only people that helps are the criminals.

Anonymous said...

It was a response to an armed robbery that occurred on the train. Not sure how else the transit police could have responded. Police officers don't respond to emergency calls for armed individuals without their weapons at the ready. If that scares or offends you, imagine the thought of police simply refusing to respond because someone would complain if they drew their weapon.

The transit police partake in routine policing that requires close coordination with WMATA's central control center. Imagine having to train every DC, PG, MC, Alexandria, Fairfax, Arlington, New Carrolton, Cheverly, District Heights, Seat Pleasant, Takoma Park, Rockville City, US Park, and US Capitol police dispatcher, officer, and official in rail operations, technology, and safety...

Additionally, the local governments created the WMATA compact so that they would not have to be involved in the operational details of the system. Policing a transit system is a completely operational function. There's a reason that nearly every heavy rail transit system in the country has their own police force.

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