The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced new safety initiatives to engage the community; target enforcement efforts; and increase police visibility on buses, trains, and in stations.
Under the leadership of Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Anzallo, MTPD has developed a three-pillar approach to invest resources in the community: education, outreach, and enforcement. The approach uses a “problem solving police strategy” focused on identifying the underlying issues that may lead to crime, developing solutions, and prevention.
“While crime is a community and regional concern, customers should feel safe on WMATA, and that means using every tool at our disposal including investing in the community and partnering with local resources for essential services,” said WMATA GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “In addition, MTPD is strategically targeting enforcement efforts in areas where crime has increased.”
As part of the new initiatives, MTPD established a new Community Services Bureau. The department’s first civilian in senior leadership, Director Shandha Louis, will head up efforts to work with schools, neighborhood groups, and mental health advocates to foster a collaborative relationship.
A new campaign to educate the public includes QR codes on signage in stations, trains, and buses, featuring MTPD’s text-tip number. Customers can scan the QR code with their phone to automatically add MTPD’s number to their contact list.
Next month, the agency will also launch a new anti-harassment public awareness campaign. The latest campaign is part of an ongoing effort that began in 2012 to raise awareness and combat harassment in the WMATA system.
“Our customers provide additional eyes and ears throughout the system, and we encourage them to be alert and contact MTPD if they see anything suspicious,” said Chief Anzallo. “We also have thousands of cameras on buses, trains and in stations that provide a valuable tool to identify and arrest anyone who commits a crime on Metro.”
Additional outreach in the community includes pop-up events at stations with food and activities where MTPD officers can interact with neighborhood residents one-on-one. MTPD is also developing partnerships with community resources to address essential service needs to help those who are homeless or in mental health crisis. New youth programs and initiatives will also be launched.
The third pillar, enforcement, uses a strategic approach to increase patrols of uniformed and plain-clothes officers at selected rail stations and buses based on crime data and trends to provide higher visibility, reassure riders, and discourage criminal activity. Officers will be staggered in shifts, to provide a greater police presence during the evening rush hour. Additional officers will be placed at major bus hubs for outreach and to be near bus routes.