The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) is “working differently” to launch several public safety initiatives that will strengthen and support customer safety and community service for those who use the transit system.
Metro Transit Police (MTPD) have strategically increased officer availability to be more visible throughout the Metrobus and Metrorail system to offer customers additional support. Officers are riding trains and buses in intervals throughout the day as part of the new safety patrol operation “HelpingHands.”
“We’ve been listening to customers over the past two months, and it’s clear that a better, safer customer experience is paramount to rebuilding ridership and customer trust,” said GM and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke. “The steps we are taking are part of a larger framework that enhances the work MTPD is already implementing to improve Metro daily.”
In the coming months, Metro will hire several Crisis Intervention Specialists trained in mental health awareness and de-escalation methods. They’ll be paired with an MTPD officer or Operating staff to respond to customers with mental health disorders, intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Since the pandemic, MTPD has seen a 40 percent increase in people in need of mental health assistance. While officers are there to aid the public, they are not trained mental health experts. These new civilian roles will work with MTPD and Operating staff to provide the appropriate crisis response and community resources.
Metro will also implement a new Customer Experience Liaison (CXL) outreach program to enhance staff visibility in stations and to make Metrobus and Metrorail an easy and seamless experience. CXL staff will wear easily identifiable uniforms and be in Metrorail stations and at Metrobus transit center throughout the system. Their support will be particularly valuable during special events and service disruptions.
Earlier this year, Metro launched a campaign to better educate the public on steps they could take to enhance personal safety while using transit. MTPD text-tip ads include QR codes on signage in stations, trains and buses featuring MTPD’s text-tip number, MyMTPD (696873). Customers can scan the QR code with their phone to automatically add MTPD’s number to their contact list. Metro also is monitoring cameras across the system, with more than 8,000 cameras on buses, trains and in stations. The use of video monitors will also be expanded to show customers entering buses and rail station faregates in real-time.
The authority also holds security exercises to test readiness and response. Today for example, Metro will temporarily close the Pentagon Station to bus and rail service from opening until approximately 2 p.m. due to a security exercise at the request of the Pentagon.
Metro advises customers if you see something, say something. Contact MTPD by text MyMTPD (696873), call 202-962-2121 for police services or to report suspicious activity. Customers can also contact wmata.com/harassment to report incidents of harassment regardless of whether you believe it’s a crime.