Over the past several months, Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) police have held multiple rigorous homeland security exercises, including a large-scale routine at the Camden Yards Transit Station in Baltimore in September. Thorough security sweeps of the transit station, platform, two light rail trains, a Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train and several parked vehicles highlighted the most recent exercise.
The drills are part of Operation ZEUS (zone enforced unified sweeps), which has also involved contributions from Baltimore City Police, MTA police, Amtrak police and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
“These drills are part of a continuing effort to make our transit system safer and more secure for our riding public,” said Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., in a statement about the exercise. “I commend the vigilance of the MTA police and applaud them for partnering with local and state law enforcement agencies to secure the homeland here in Maryland.”
Passengers are also an integral part of Operation ZEUS. MTA police emphasize to riders to alert the station attendant or bus or train operators if they see a suspicious package or an unattended bag. The agency has also set up an 800-number to call for reporting suspicious packages or activity.
The TSA supports Operation ZEUS and views it as a model for other transit agencies across the nation. TSA officials are especially supportive of the cooperation made among local, state and federal levels in security preparations.
“We know that transit systems are a potential target for terrorist activity,” said MTA Police Chief Douglas DeLeaver. “We do these drills to target-harden our transit system against terrorist or criminal activity.”