Over the past few months, there have been several very concerning incidents in which people have been attacked and robbed on the Metro rail and bus systems by groups of juveniles. According to Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, these incidents are part of a larger trend. Groups of this type are committing robberies across Washington, D.C.
While small in number, the incidents have been violent and brazen. These teenage groups have committed robberies in daylight in front of numerous witnesses and, often, surveillance cameras. This is completely unacceptable. Identifying and apprehending the individuals committing these crimes is an urgent matter. To do so, we need to enhance and speed up collaboration among our public safety agencies and the public.
This week, the District announced the formation of a task force to improve the process through which the Metropolitan Police Department, WMATA’s Metro Transit Police and District prosecutors interact. This task force will increase available resources, allow for information to be shared quickly and ensure that prosecutors have everything they need to punish people for these crimes and prevent them from continuing to commit them.
In October, WMATA’s board of directors approved the spending of $4.32 million for additional cameras throughout the Metro system. These have begun to be installed, with more to come. The video they capture needs to be shared quickly with MPD, other police agencies and the public to identify robbery suspects.
The collaboration between MPD and MTPD will add to the public safety resources present in and around the Metro system. But if it proves insufficient, the WMATA board will need to increase funding for transit police officers. Safety in the system is the highest priority.
I will continue to keep you informed on this issue as a member both of the WMATA board and of the District Council’s judiciary committee. We’ve worked too hard for the past two decades to make D.C. safer for residents and visitors — and more attractive for people and businesses to move here — to allow these recent violent robberies to become an ongoing concern. It is essential that we commit the resources necessary to stop them now.
Jack Evans is the District Council member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.