DC Metro Drafts New York City Expert For Safety Woes, Boosts Security

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Washington, D.C., is shaking up Metro staff and boosting security in stations following a wave of violence on the transit system, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld announced Tuesday.

D.C. is hiring a veteran of the New York City transit system, Patrick Lavin, as its new Chief Safety Officer, Wiedefeld said in a press release announcing the hire. Lavin’s predecessor resigned after less than a year at the post. (RELATED: Metro Chief Walks Back Talk Of Closing Lines For 6 Months)

“I look forward to Pat joining our team and to his leadership on Metro’s safety culture improvements,” Wiedefeld said in the release. “Pat has a unique combination of operational and safety experience, and a proven record as a proactive and hands-on safety professional who understands how to partner with operations and maintenance teams to achieve safer practices.”

The news came the same day as metro announced increased security and patrols in stations, specifically at the Deanwood Metro, which was the scene of two murders in the last three weeks. John Rufus Evans III, 15, was stabbed to death Monday in the station. And over Easter weekend a teen fatally shot 15-year-old Davonte Washington while he was going for a haircut with his family. (RELATED: Teen Stabbed To Death In Another Fatal Incident On DC Metro)

Critics have blasted metro officials in recent weeks for a lack of on the ground security in stations to prevent what residents see as mounting violence on the transit system. Metro Police Chief Ron Pavlik acknowledged the concerns Tuesday, but noted metro is working with limited resources, reports NBC Washington.

“To have an officer at every single 91 stations, 186 entrances and exits would be a phenomenal task,” Pavlik told NBC Washington.

Lavin enters the Metro during a tumultuous time, with violent encounters and deteriorating internal systems plaguing the system. Apart from criminal acts, technical problems with Metro earlier in the year revealed the transit system is in a far worse state of disrepair than previously thought. (RELATED: New DC Metro Chief Says Safety Is ‘Much Worse’ Than He Thought)

Wiedefeld will unveil his plan in the coming weeks to repair the city’s transit system, which he estimates will take roughly two years. Instead of blanket shutdowns of entire lines, an idea officials briefly floated before severe commuter backlash, Wiedefeld says passengers can expect smaller, but more frequent delays. Lavin’s expertise from New York City transit reportedly centers on rail maintenance, signaling metro is gearing up for their repair efforts.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to bring to Metro more than 30 years’ experience in rail operations and maintenance, as well as safety investigations,” Lavin said in the press release. “Combining two sides of the house so that safety works hand in hand with operations will help us make positive changes that serve Metro’s employees and customers well. I look forward to making a difference in Washington.”

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