Metro holds special board meeting on safety

- Dealing with a rash of recent safety issues, Metro held a special board meeting on Thursday to discuss their problems. Board members peppered Metro's management with questions from trains running red signals to the recent arrest of a Metro police officer.

Board members are frustrated like many Metro passengers about safety issues that simply won't go away. Metro Board chair Jack Evans began the meeting saying, "This has got to stop." Evans also brought a picture of Maj. Gen. David Wherley, who was killed in the 2009 Metro Red Line train crash to remind members of the need to focus on safety.

Evans and other board members then asked Metro management about a number of safety issues. One big discussion surrounded the derailment outside the East Falls Church station.

Metro announced that it has asked for a police investigation to begin after hearing conflicting information during its investigation. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld made it clear that he doesn’t know if any crime was committed, but he wanted to make sure the incident was investigated.

“I can’t go very far into that,” Wiedefeld said about the investigation. “We don’t want any statements that we all make to jeopardize anything that may come out of that. But I think it does reflect the seriousness that we take and the commitment we are taking to, again, individual accountability for the safety of our customers and our fellow employees.”

Another big issue was the recent arrest of former Metro Transit Police officer Nicholas Young. He is facing charges of attempting assist the terrorist group, ISIS. One Metro board member wanted to know if there could be others on the force also connected to terror groups.

“I think you may have heard throughout the law enforcement community, homegrown violent extremists are our biggest threat right now,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik. “When you look at the homegrown terrorist-type people, there are no warning signs, there are no precursors, so I think the threat of homegrown extremists are always out there. Are there any internal to the Metro Transit Police now? No, I’m not aware of any nor is the FBI.”

Track inspections are continuing to take place after the Silver Line train derailment that occurred last month. Management said additional inspections are underway and a team from Tennessee is coming in to help with additional training of employees.

There is also consideration to use high definition cameras and positioning them so they can provide a look at the tracks around the clock to spot issues before a train comes along.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 8.

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