Captured on camera Transit security: MTA, police response to light-rail shooting should engender confidence.

October 31, 1995

SINCE LAST WEEK'S shooting on the Anne Arundel portion of the Central Light Rail line, some riders are wondering whether they should get back in their cars or just stay home.

That's not hard to understand. Whenever a plane crashes, a lot of folks think twice about flying, too. Sooner or later, though, they must get past that immediate reaction and ask whether the incident that spawned their fear was a fluke or the result of errors and circumstances likely to be repeated. They also must consider whether the response to it inspires confidence or doubt.

This bizarre shooting looks like a fluke, not part of a pattern. And the response to it should reassure riders that it is all right to take the train.

Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind about this case -- which thankfully resulted in only a minor injury -- is that light rail security equipment enabled police to identify and arrest the shooter shortly after he got off the train.

Each light rail car has four security cameras. If the equipment hadn't captured the culprit's image, it is possible he would still be on the run. The point is, the Mass Transit Administration has responded to the public demand for better security since a spate of minor light-rail related crimes 1 1/2 years ago. The effort paid off in this case with a timely arrest.

There is only so much the MTA -- or any place of business, public building or mode of transportation -- can do to guard against troublemakers and lunatics. MTA police don't frisk people or send them through metal detectors before they board the trains. Even places that do sometimes are outfoxed.

Light-rail riders can't expect the MTA to eliminate all risk. But they should expect the MTA to make the risk as minuscule as possible. And when something does go wrong, they should expect the authorities to act swiftly and effectively.

This incident was handled as competently by the MTA and Anne Arundel County police as anyone could expect.

The odds of anything like it happening to you are remote -- probably far less than the chance of a mishap involving that car you're so tempted to drive to work again.

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