The Washington, D.C. Metro will substantially increase police patrols on all city transit in response to a string of violent incidents and mounting concerns over passenger safety.
Metro officials will boost police presence on city trains and buses by diverting resources from administrative tasks, Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik announced Thursday. Officials will also target specific times of day to patrol based on crowds and crime trends.
“The additional measures will result in sharp increases in the number of officers on patrol at selected times of day, and also better utilize officers working in “limited duty” status to provide additional ‘eyes and ears’ at key locations,” read a press release from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Metro officials will use what they refer to as “power hour” deployments, which will double police forces in certain locations. They will also reassign 17 officers to patrol duties.
“Every Metro rider deserves to be able to travel freely without fear, and we will take all appropriate steps to reassure riders and respond to crime trends,” Pavlik said in a statement Thursday. “At the General Manager’s direction, we will take immediate steps to increase patrols using our existing resources.”
The District’s transit system is suffering a recent wave of crime and violence that has residents and commuters anxious about their safety. Police arrested a 16-year-old Tuesday who shot a passenger on a moving train as it was approaching the Anacostia Metro Station. The victim was released from the hospital, but the incident left officials stunned, reports The Washington Post.
“This was a truly anomaly event,” Pavlik said Tuesday at a press briefing. “I can’t recall one in my 20 years here where a shooting actually occurred on a train.”
Crime rates on public transportation in Washington, D.C. rose from 5.02 crimes per million riders in 2014 to 6.2 million in 2015. The city has a new security center for the Metro and cameras in every station, which helped catch a number of criminals this year — however, passengers remain fearful of their safety. The D.C. Council made it clear at a hearing on the issue February 19 that commuter safety must be a top priority, reports The Washington Post.
“Somehow our reliability has fallen apart,” said Council member Jack Evans, chairman of the Metro board. “It’s important that we deal with this issue of people feeling safe in our system now, quickly, before it becomes the routine that people don’t feel safe.”
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