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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

WMATA to increase police presence at stations, trains and buses

The+U-Pass+program+is+set+to+go+into+effect+on+Dec.+1%2C+providing+students+with+a+free+trial+before+charging+a+%24100-per-semester+fee+in+the+spring.
File Photo by Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer
The U-Pass program is set to go into effect on Dec. 1, providing students with a free trial before charging a $100-per-semester fee in the spring.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials announced plans to partner with the Metropolitan Police Department to increase the presence of MPD officers at Metro stations during peak hours.

Officials said at a Wednesday press conference that two off-duty MPD officers will take the shifts of Metro Transit Police Department officers in five stations, Metro Center, Gallery Place, Union Station, Georgia Avenue-Petworth and Congress Heights, which relieves MTPD officers to patrol other areas. The initiative starts on Monday, with officers stationed from 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m., and will end at the end of the fiscal year in June, officials said during the meeting.

“MPD will work with WMATA to have more officers from the MPD deployed in the morning and during afternoon and evening commutes,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the press conference Wednesday.

The announcement comes after three shootings in Metro Centeron a 54 bus, and in the Potomac Avenue station. The Potomac Avenue station shooting killed Metro employee Robert Cunningham, while two riders were also shot during the same incident last week.

Mike Anzallo, the MTPD assistant chief, said MTPD officials have noticed an uptick in involuntary commitments – when individuals experiencing mental health issues are admitted for mental evaluation without their consent – since coming out of the pandemic. He said they have increased police presence on trains, platforms and near kiosks of Metro stations to make riders feel safer and combat potential violence. 

“There’s a lot of mental health problems out in society right now,” Anzallo said. “It’s a violence problem, obviously, so we’re trying to pull our resources in the region to get more officers, like the general manager said, on trains and buses, and parking.”

Anzallo said this initiative is a “work in progress” as other police departments in jurisdictions served by WMATA join MTPD to increase patrols at rail stations and bus routes in the system, a partnership that will increase police presence on the Metro by nearly 60 percent, according to a release.

“Right now, we’ve got Metropolitan Police Department, Greenbelt City and then Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority,” Anzallo said.

After New York City subway officials increased their police presence by about 1,000 more officers in October 2022, there was “little evidence” to suggest crime was reduced, and low-level arrests for fare evasion – especially among people of color – increased, according to Bloomberg.

Randy Clarke, WMATA CEO and general manager, said Metro has hired crisis intervention specialists to serve stations outside of the initiative. WMATA officials debuted the HelpingHands safety initiative in September, which increased MTPD presence on trains by 30 percent and phased in the assistance of crisis intervention specialists trained in mental health “awareness” and de-escalation tactics.

Clarke also said Metro’s video system on buses, trains and stations is “extensive,” and officials are trying to connect people experiencing “issues” to the services they need.

“We’re trying in all facets to just make sure people feel safe on the system,” Clarke said in an interview.

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