Enhanced security around D.C. landmarks, transit systems continues

WASHINGTON — There is a heightened level of security around the D.C. area. Agencies that took steps to increase patrols following the attacks in Paris on Friday say that extra vigilance will continue.

Commuters likely have noticed more police officers throughout the transit system since Friday.

“We’re increasing our patrol efforts, whether it’s uniform patrol (or) plainclothes officers, our random explosive bag screening, as well as our canine patrols,” says Metro Transit police Chief Ron Pavlik.

Metro has increased patrols systemwide. For security reasons, the Pavlik would not say how many officers would be deployed but says the department’s approach would constantly change.

“The randomness is key,” he says. “We don’t want to do the same thing every day.”

In a news release, Metro says it plans to deploy more than 20 police dog teams to conduct sweeps around rail stations. The transit system will also expand its random explosives screenings of passengers’ bags at station entrances.

Pavlik says the department has getting more text-messaged tips.

“Although there’s no credible threat here in the United States, it’s important that we remind our riders and our employees that we do operate a safe system,” Pavlik says.

Metro Transit police is coordinating with federal law enforcement to monitor information regarding the attacks in Paris.

Amtrak is also partnering with local, state and federal law enforcement to increase security measures at stations, inside trains and along the tracks.

“Extra K-9, uniform personnel and long guns have been deployed. We have reminded Amtrak employees to look for and report any suspicious activity and unattended items and reissued guidance pertaining to facility inspections and active shooter incidents,” Amtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds says.

On the Hill, U.S. Capitol police are monitoring real-time intelligence updates and, out of an abundance of caution, will continue its enhanced patrols throughout the Capitol grounds, according to a statement from Capitol police Captain Kimberly Schneider.

Capitol police reiterate there is no known threat to the Capitol building.

Still, the police agency sent an email to congressional offices urging lawmakers and their staff members to take extra precautions including using the tunnels that connect House and Senate buildings to travel from building to building and reporting anything suspicious, The Associated Press reports.

“While there currently is no specific threat to the Capitol Complex, it will always be an appealing target,” the memo reads.

D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department is also working with other local, federal and homeland security agencies to “authenticate and determine the credibility of this new threat,” Chief Cathy Lanier said in a statement to WTOP.

“MPD will maintain a proactive posture in response to the tragic events in Paris and the recent threats against our city. Additionally, our resource deployment and staffing have been enhanced,” Chief Cathy Lanier said.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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