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Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 07/21/2011

Sarles to deliver news that crime is down on Metro

Robberies on Metro dropped more than 30 percent for the first half of this year compared to the same time period last year, according to transit officials.

That’s part of the news General Manager Richard Sarlesis expected to deliver to Metro’s board of directors Thursday as part of his first six-month report as permanent chief executive. Sarles was hired as the permanent Metro chief in January, following ninth months as the interim head.

The decrease was driven in large part by Metro’s use of a crime-tracking program that gives more “real-time information” of where and when incidents are happening, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

The crime data also shows that serious crimes are down b y a third for the first part of this year compared to 2010 and robberies of personal electronic devices are down.

Metro’s crime-tracking system, known as MetroStat, is similar to one called CompStat that’s used in police departments nationwide.

“It is a a crime analysis that drills down to the micro level so they can identify trends in near real time and deploy police resources effectively,” Stessel said.

He said MetroStat has been effective in helping reduce crime, along with other efforts like high-visibility deployments of Metro Transit Police and improved coordination with other police departments.

Metro said this week that there had been an uptick in break-ins of vehicles at parking facilities at Largo Town Center, Vienna, White Flint, Fort Totten and Addison Road stations, with 19 happening last Thursday.

The break-ins were what Metro officials call “smash-and-grabs,” where thieves break into a car that has valuables — purses, loose coins, CDs, GPS devices — left in plain sight.

According to Stessel, Sarles’s also report includes the agency’s efforts to:

• Train more employees in its rail safety operations.

• Replace track switches as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board after the fatal 2009 Red Line crash near Fort Totten.

• Repair platforms at Shady Grove, Rockville, White Flint and Twinbrook stations.

• Rehabilitate escalators from platforms to mezzanine levels at Farragut North, Dupont Circle, Metro Center, Union Station and Judiciary Square.

• Try to recruit more bus and train operators.

Sarles is also expected to tell the board how Metro plans to create a ”virtual tunnel” between Farragut North and Farragut West stations, allowing riders to transfer above ground between the two stations without paying a second fare.

The agency also plans to start a mystery shopper program later this year and to roll out a program that will allow riders to upload money to SmarTrip fare cards online. A pilot program is now underway with about 5,000 Metro riders.

The board’s agenda for today’s meeting includes changing some nus routes to accommodate military personnel moves associated with the Base Realignment and Closure program; adopting by-laws and a code of ethics; hearing reports from the Riders’ Advisory Council and the Accessibility Advisory Commitee; adopting a station naming policy and selling some property.

Follow Dana on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

By  |  09:00 AM ET, 07/21/2011

Categories:  Metro

 
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