WMATA: “announced plans to increase patrols onboard buses, trains and within Metrorail stations”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

Ed. Note: Last Friday we spoke about whether or not folks felt safe on metro. See the poll results here.

From a press release:

“Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld and Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik today announced plans to increase patrols onboard buses, trains and within Metrorail stations. 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.

Metro Transit Police will begin implementing the following measures immediately:

Reassign 17 officers to Patrol Operations. MTPD will transfer responsibility for securing revenue to an outside firm, a move that will make available 11 officers immediately and an additional 6 officers within 60 days. This action will increase the overall size of MTPD’s Patrol Operations Bureau by more than five percent. The additional officers will be assigned to patrols based on crime trends.

Relieve existing Patrol Officers from revenue protection duties. Currently, some officers on patrol duties spend a portion of their tour on revenue protection duties. A secondary benefit of transferring revenue security to an outside firm is that current Patrol Officers will be able to focus on traditional police duties at all times.

Implement “power hour” deployments, surging the number of officers on duty at selected times by up to 100 percent. MTPD will strategically use overtime to overlap the Department’s Day Shift and Evening Shift officers on selected days and at selected locations. By having the two shifts overlap, the number of officers on duty can nearly double during hours when patrol coverage is needed most (i.e. during late-afternoon and evening hours).

Reassign officers on qualifying “limited duty” status to key stations to provide additional “eyes and ears.” Officers who are unable to perform full duty, but are cleared to work in limited duty status will be assigned to stations based on crime trends. These officers, who may be in high-visibility vests or in casual clothes, will be equipped with police radios to summon on-duty MTPD officers when needed.

“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,” said Chief Pavlik. “At the General Manager’s direction, we will take immediate steps to increase patrols using our existing resources.”

MTPD encourages any rider who notices anything of concern to bring it to the attention of police. To report emergencies, call 911 or MTPD directly at 202-962-2121. MTPD also has a convenient “text tip” option for reporting non-emergency situations. Riders can simply send a text message to 696873 (MyMTPD) to reach a Transit Police dispatcher.”

35 Comment

  • And by “key stations” they mean…. Farragut north?…. Cleveland Park?… Courthouse?…..

  • About time WMATA. Newsflash: Many schools end at 3:15. Might want to think about the red line, especially Brookland to New York Ave to Union Station at that time. It’s an absolute shit show most days.

  • About time. I hope this is more than just window dressing.

  • Either my commute is about to get a lot more fun, or Paul Wiedefeld’s understanding of what constitutes a power hour appear to differ substantially from mine.

  • Color me unconvinced.

    So they have 17 officers, or 4% of their entire uniformed officers “securing revenue”? Only metro still thinks that you need a SWAT team on hand in the wee hours of the night to protect against people stealing a bag of quarters.

    All I read here was “we are going to spend gobs more money doing something we are already staffed appropriately to do, like hiring rent a cops to collect the money and paying for lots more overtime”

    Transit police has 430 uniformed officers. Assume 10% are out any given day (sick leave/vacation/training) and that leaves two shifts of 200 “securing” metro rail and bus.

    Now I ride two lines of metro every day, twice a day and months frequently go by without me seeing a transit cop in a rail station downtown. Instead, they are all parked in their idling SUV’s at street level.

    There are ~5 or 6 trouble station spread across a couple of lines. You don’t need to patrol them all equally. Whiele Ave, Rockville or West Falls Church stations don’t exactly need a “full time presence”, yet that presence is missing where it is always needed most.

    • I wholly agree. My hope is that the “moving more officers of ‘revenue generation'” is just the spin, and the real plan is to “get the incompetent heads out of asses and actually do something before more people die.”

    • Here’s the dirty secret: cops HATE walking beat patrols. It’s the lowest duty assigned to the grunts. Why walk a beat when you can get paid to sit in a car (the fact that most officers on a shift are sitting in a car is just CRAZY) or an office? This press release is basically pleading with the Police to get off their butts.

      • THIS. Even the cops who are on “foot patrol” are more often than not standing around in groups of 2 or 3 talking. They aren’t watching, they aren’t looking for potential trouble, and they aren’t spread out. Basic logic says they should split up and walk around and PAY ATTENTION to their surroundings. Instead they wait around for a radio call. I hope Wiedefeld has seen this type of “patrolling” and made it clear to this department that they need to start working, not having a social hour or playing with their phones in an SUV.

        • And some of the “revenue securing,” if that extends to watching/controlling turnstile jumpers, could be reduced if the booths were staffed with someone watching (or someone at all). Considering you usually have to flag someone down, go find someone, or just go out the gate if there’s an issue… it’s another glorious aspect of the well-oiled Metro machine that is utterly inept.

      • Cops usually “graduate”, or get promoted out of the high crime areas, too. As one might figure, it’s a nice bonus or promotion to get to patrol the gated communities with lattes and joggers as opposed to crack houses.
        As a result, our most experienced cops get promoted away to the places that need them the least.

        • (Sorry – bit of a non sequitur, as I expanded the issue to police overall, and not just metro police… but the same concept applies)

  • I would vigorously applaud this plan had it been implemented a year ago when it was obvious things were getting worse, but now I can only roll my eyes and say about time. And look at what Metro has had so many of it’s few officers doing, “securing revenue” and “revenue protection.” What can we say about a system that has been using trained police officers, who could have been much better utilized elsewhere, for the work of security guards.

    • Since you suggested stations that don’t need a “full time presence”, can you suggest some of the stations that do?

      • to echo what some have said above – Gallery Place, NoMa, Union Station

      • Well, from 3:15 on, Union Station, NY Ave & Brookland. I ride the redline, so those are obvious to me. L’Enfant plaza needs armed teams, dogs and new lighting. I’ll bet other readers can chime in and yes to anon who pointed out this needed to happen last year. I’d argue the problem goes back longer than that since I’ve seen juveniles moving between moving metro cars, eating, swearing and threatening passengers on the red line for several years. I would like to mention that these are not the Gonzaga boys, just in case WMATA wants to know what schools might be contributing to the problem.

      • Tenleytown, Gallery Place, L’Enfant, Rhode Island, Anacostia, Shaw.

        These 6 are the standard trouble zones for metro. Shootings, assaults, muggings “wildin out” (whatever that means). Two officers in each station full time and another 20 officers dedicated to riding every other train in either direction on these two lines through the core stations. Instead, we get either no officers in the system, or their are 8 (I kid you not) standing at the McLean platform gabbing, telling jokes, laughing and have a grand ol time on a random Saturday afternoon like I saw a couple months ago.

        Thats a total of 32 of the 200 armed officers available per shift leaving another 170 to do “whatever”.

        There are 3 or 4 bus lines that need that kind of attention too.

      • Gallery Place should be staffed full-time by officers armed with machine guns.

        • Waiting for a train at Penn Station in NY, it was pretty comforting to see openly armed National Guard.

        • So they can summarily enforce the death penalty on persons they judge to be committing crimes, capital or non? Due process is just a waste of taxpayer money, amirite? And bystanders? Pfft. Probably up to no good. Looked sketchy. Thought I smelled weed.
          (Does anything think before they type anymore?)

          • Oh, the drama! Do you think before you type? Most people realize, or at least I thought they did, that a show of armed force does not equate opening fire on every person who is suspected of criminal activity. I can remember seeing armed soldiers inside the entrances of the Smithsonian museums right after 9-11, and I don’t recall hearing about too many people getting their brains blown out for looking like they might have a nail file in their bag.

  • I’m a little surprised that 17 officers are 5% of the patrol bureau. Are these the only people patrolling? I calculated and that’s roughly 2.5 patrol officers per metro station if they actually put one at each metro station. I guess that’s not terrible if they overlap at rush hour, but it seems like the transfer stations in particular deserve a more significant increase than a couple of guys per station (up from like, no guys per station).

  • Maybe they can catch Andre Broadis again, the 19 yr old shooter at Anacostia station on Tuesday – since he’s already out of jail waiting his trial date. Oh, I guess a condition of his release is to stay away from the metro.

  • I hope this will be meaningful and targeted patrols, and not just officers standing around by the fare gates fiddling on their phones. I also wonder whether they will be riding the trains, or just hanging around in the stations.
    .
    I read a while back that the officers’ radios don’t work well in the tunnels, and that’s why they spend so much time near the fare gates or at surface level. Does anyone know if that is the case?

  • Something should be done, but they lost me at “strategically use overtime.” This sounds like an expensive band aid. If you need to increase headcount, increase headcount.

    Overtime is not a permanent solution anywhere.

  • I’m glad to see someone addressing the problem. I hope this helps and I hope other measures are also on the way.

  • Gee, it only took over a year.

  • I haven’t taken the metro in weeks, simply out of fear. Today I was waiting on an Orange line train at L’Enfant Plaza; the train pulled up and sat with the doors closed for about 2 minutes. I was starting to get annoyed, and saw 5 Metro Police come up to the car I was going to get on, peer in the windows, then identify and remove someone off the car. I’ve NEVER seen this and have to admit, I was impressed they were able to intercept someone like this. I’m skeptical and realize this is anecdotal, but maybe they ARE taking crime seriously now?

    • I am curious what has you so afraid. Did you witness something that put you off? Is it a perceived notion that you aren’t safe on metro? i am legitimately curious and not condescending to how you feel.

  • Just FYI. Everyone’s math is a bit off.
    There might be 400 or w/e police officers on the department, but that number is spread across Patrol units(uniformed) , AntiTerror Unit, K-9 units, Detectives, Training Division, Plainclothes Unit (yes they have one), and all the high brass I.e sgts captains LTs Chiefs, etc

    So reality is, they don’t have 200 crime fighting officers working at a given time. MPD doesn’t even have that amount workin a shift. Also consider, this number is spread through 3 shifts day , evening, midnights. Of those shifts, that number is split again by days off.
    I’m not going to go into actual numbers of how many are working a beat at a time, cause that may jepordize OPSEC.

    What needs to happen is they need to hire more officers. MPD is in the same boat. This takes time. You need to vet 1000s of applicants and pick the best. We don’t want to willynilly mass hire. And then they have to complete academy. Metros academy is longer, due to having to qualify in VA, MD, and DC.
    They need to also allow their plainclothes unit to focus more on the rail side of the system, instead of their current focus. And increase staffing in that unit, which again depends on them hiring more people. And this takes time.

    Also, another FYI, MTPD arrests a lot of people. It’s an active arrest generating department due to being in crime bubbles of DC PG MoCO and VA crime ridden areas. MTPD arrests more people in DC then any other agency in DC , apart from the local MPD. There are even a lot of officers who make more arrests then their local counterparts, I.e MPD, PG County, etc.

    Thought I’d put this all out there.

  • Long overdue. Glad they’re finally addressing this major problem

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