Wednesday afternoon DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager Randy Clarke and Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee announced a public safety partnership between the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and WMATA.
A Commitment to Safety
This partnership, aimed at enhancing public safety and security in the District’s transit system, is intended to increase police presence at metro stations across the city beginning next week. The announcement comes in the wake of a shooting at the Potomac Ave Station (700 14th St. SE) last week that left three injured and one dead. WMATA employee, Robert Cunningham, was killed intervening on behalf of a customer inside the station.
Bowser said Washingtonians can expect to see a larger police presence in and around transit stations.
“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,” Bowser said. “When police are in the community, people feel safer and our officers can respond faster.”
Contee emphasized the importance of public safety and the goals of the partnership to improve safety measures for DC.
“The safety of our community, whether on the street or in our transportation system, is priority for MPD,” Contee said. “We know that healthy law enforcement partnerships within the District are an effective tool for public safety. This partnership between MTPD and MPD will allow us to work better together and ensure the safety of the residents and visitors in the District.”
The New Protocol
Clarke emphasized the “supplemental” nature of this partnership and noted that Metro’s Transit Police Department (MTPD) officers will still be on duty. The salaries of the MPD officers employed in the program will be covered by Metro. In part, he said, the additional MPD officers help MTPD bridge a gap in coverage of the system. Clarke said about 79 positions are currently under staffed as MTPD begins to put together the FY24 budget.
“The real purpose of this is how do we get our officers even closer to our customers and our riders,” Clarke said. “…A lot of this is to bring visibility and show that we are together one big partnership all working together for a safer community.”
Five stations across the District that have “the most crime, complaint and disorder problems” were selected to have an increased police presence. However, the list of stations included during this first phase, which begins next week, and lasts until June, does not include Potomac Metro Station. The first patrols, according to the mayor’s office selected based on crime data, will be deployed at Metro Center, Gallery Place, Georgia Ave – Petworth, Congress Heights, and Union Station.
Asked why Potomac Avenue metro station was not included in that list, Clark said that one MTPD officer is assigned to duty at Potomac Avenue Station from open to close already.
Officers from MPD will be deployed during the morning (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and evening (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) commutes, and Bowser said she has a “strong hope” that regional jurisdictions will also help out. Two officers will conduct joint patrols to increase police visibility and response time at the following stations:
- Metro Center (607 13th St NW)
- Gallery Place (630 H St NW)
- Georgia Ave – Petworth (3700 Georgia Ave NW)
- Congress Heights (1290 Alabama Ave SE)
- Union Station (50 Massachusetts Ave NE)
Additionally, the Metro will fund the extra patrols and expects to finalize agreements with additional police departments in other jurisdictions served by Metro, which will increase patrols on rail stations and on bus routes throughout the system as much as 60 percent.
Clarke thanked Bowser for her support and commitment to public safety. He reiterated that WMATA remains a safe mode of transportation and that he is “on the system everyday.”
“While the metro, and even the city, can’t be out there solving everything to do with gun violence in America, we are doing stuff.”
Clarke reported that, over past few months, WMATA has worked to increase police patrols by 25-30%, hired mental health crisis intervention officers and are working on the camera program.
Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at email@example.com.