WASHINGTON — DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new partnership between the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) on Wednesday.
MPD officers will now join MTPD officers on patrol at stations that have seen the most crime during the busiest times of day. Officials say the new partnership will help increase police visibility and response times.
“We know that residents and visitors want to see a strong police presence in our community, and that’s what this partnership will allow us to provide,” said Mayor Bowser. “When police are in the community, people feel safer and our officers can respond faster. Hundreds of thousands of people use Metro every day to move around DC, and now, they can expect to see more MPD officers out during their commutes.”
The announcement comes a week after a deadly shooting at the Potomac Avenue Metro Station. Metro Mechanic 64-year-old Robert Cunningham was killed in the shooting, two others were shot and a railcar of riders were terrorized during the short string of violence. Prosecutors said 31-year-old Isiah Trotman went on a rampage the morning of February 1, which reportedly began on a Metrobus before moving into the Potomac Ave. Metro Station.
Click here for a full breakdown of the events that happened on Feb. 1 according to court documents.
“In recent months MTPD has increased patrols 30% at the busiest times, hired crisis intervention specialists, and bolstered our camera network to better fight crime, and this new partnership will further enhance our ability to keep customers safe,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Anzallo. “This collaborative approach will allow us to better protect the community and increase our visibility on trains and buses, and we look forward to working alongside MPD and other local law enforcement partners.”
MTPD officers will partner on patrols at five stations and transit centers with MPD officers. Two officers per station will conduct joint patrols to increase visibility and response time, especially during rush hours (6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.)
The plan was scheduled to go into effect next week, but Metro said that it started Friday instead.
Based on the crime data, the following stations will see the first patrol units:
- Metro Center
- Gallery Place
- Georgia Ave-Petworth
- Congress Heights
- Union Station
"Those are the stations that we have the most crime and complaints at, and disorder problems," said Anzallo.
The partnership is currently slated to end by June, but could be extended if the need arises. Stations could also change if crime data dictates it.
WMATA General Manager Randy Clarke says he has requested the help from other local jurisdictions, but understands that they are also seeing staffing shortages.
Metro plans to fund the extra patrols and expects to come to agreements with more police departments in other nearby areas served by Metro. Those new agreements would increase patrols at rail stations and on bus routes by as much as 60%.
"What is changing, is now Metro Transit, the WMATA system will pick up the tab for Metropolitan Police officers being at the metro stations," said D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee.
"I don't mind them being there because I feel a little safer," said one Metro rider that asked to not be named, but not all are convinced.
"I am very much not on board. I like many transit riders, pedestrians, drivers fear gun violence," said transit rider Jesse Rubens. He says increasing the presence of officers will make some riders uncomfortable, and increasing the number of uniformed members does not guarantee more safety. "Throwing more money at the police, we've seen has been an abject failure on every measure, on every possible measure."
Following Cunningham's death, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) released a statement blasting WMATA for "failing to provide better protection and safety measures for transit workers and riders." The union claims Cunningham was a member of ATU's 689-Washington chapter. He was killed after trying to intervene on behalf of another rider. WMATA called him a heroic employee who was a victim of senseless gun violence.
In Jan., the ATU sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urging for help addressing what it calls "the national transit worker safety crisis." The letter, which can be read in full here, states workers have been shot, stabbed, and struck with canes, fire extinguishers, screwdrivers, hammers and garbage cans.
"They have been sprayed with mace and pepper spray, burned with hot coffee, and doused in urine and spit," the ATU says in a statement. "We have had senior citizens robbed for pocket change and women sexually assaulted. This constitutes a regular day on the job in the transit industry."
MTPD says they plan on expanding its "problem-solving police strategy" by hiring mental health crisis officials and increasing officers' presence on Metrobus and Metrorail.
Click here for more information on the MPD and MTPD partnership.
The man accused of shooting multiple people before killing a Metro worker appeared in court for the first time Tuesday. Isiah Trotman, 31, is accused of killing 64-year-old Metro employee Robert Cunningham, as well as shooting two other people at the Potomac Metro Station on Feb. 1.
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