Overall serious crime is down in the Metro rail and bus system for the second quarter of this year compared to 2010, but aggravated assaults are up, according to a report from Metro Transit Police.
The number of serious crimes reported is down 17 percent, with 487 incidents reported from April 1 through June 30 compared to 588 during the same period last year, the report says.
In the serious crime category, aggravated assaults totaled 34, up from 31. Thefts dropped to 204 from 270 and car thefts decreased to 29 from 35. Robbery also fell to 220 from 251, Metro data says.
Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said Tuesday that serious crime is down because of a “combination of factors, including initiatives to work with area police jurisdictions, hard work of our officers, and public awareness.”
Taborn called the increase in aggravated assaults “statistically insignificant” and said the assaults can include attacks on police officers, rocks thrown at buses or injuries a bus operator sustained from an attack.
The drop in thefts he attributed to Transit Police working with area police departments to have uniformed and undercover officers patrolling Metro parking lots and garages.
This spring, Metro officials meet with area police jurisdictions to request their help in patrolling Metro stations. The local police were issued SmarTrip cards so they could access Metro’s parking facilities, Metro said.
“Every additional law enforcement presence helps,” Taborn said. “It is more eyes and ears. It is a plus for us and it makes customers safe and secure.”
Frank DeBernardo, the chairman of the advisory group, said Metro riders are concerned about some recent high-profile crimes, including an incident earlier this year that where a Metro rider was assaulted at the L’Enfant Plaza station and the incident was recorded and widely distributed.
“People are becoming a little more worried and nervous about crime on Metro,” DeBernardo said. “It has been a relatively safe system as far as public transportation systems go, but it seems as news gets out people have become more concerned.”
DeBernardo said there is also a “general perception that young people on the train make more noise so people around them, particularly older riders, feel more unsafe and vulnerable.”
He said there is also worry among riders about the safety in Metro’s parking lots and garages, some of which are on secondary roads where commuters may believe they are walking in a “no man’s land,” DeBernardo said.
For the first six months of this year, the number of reported serious crimes is down to 904, compared to the same time period last year when there were 1,074, according to figures from Metro Transit Police.
Aggravated assaults are up to 59 for the first six months of this year, compared to 55 for the same time period last year. There were no reports of burglaries, compared to two in 2010.
Metro Transit Police define a robbery as an incident that involves violence or the threat of violence. A burglary usually involves the suspect not interacting with the victim.
Thefts dropped to 329 this year, compared to 421 in 2010. The number of car thefts and attempts is up to 67 from 52. Robberies are down to 449 versus 540 in 2010.
Metro also relaunched its “See Something, Say Something” campaign to remind riders to report suspicious bags or activity.
To help deter crime, Metro Transit police said they have “realigned deployments to maximize visibility in the system.” Those efforts included putting more officers on Metro buses and adjusting the locations of police patrols to areas where youth gather in the summer. They are also conducting meetings with bus operators to discuss safety measures and try to reduce assaults.
Earlier this year, there was an uptick in reported snatchings of iPhones and electronic devices. Transit Police along with local and federal law enforcement arrested three men in August and accused them of trafficking stolen smartphones on the Metro system and then tried to resell them at kiosks at Pentagon City mall.
According to the statistics, Metro Transit Police recorded the following incidents from April 1 to June 30:
• 16,427 calls for service.
• 355 arrests.
• 1,931 criminal and civil citations for fare evasion and other issues.
• 11 bus operator assaults.
According to the crime report’s second quarter statistics, the Suitland and Deanwood Metro stops ranked first among the 86 Metro stations for each having 30 reported crimes. Gallery Place and Largo Town Center ranked second and third, respectively, for the entire system.
In the District, the Deanwood, Gallery Place and L’Enfant Plaza stops ranked the top three highest, respectively for having the most serious crimes. Suitland, Largo Town Center and College Park stations had the most serious crimes in Maryland. In Virginia, Franconia-Springfield, Vienna and West Falls Church were the stations with the highest number of serious crimes reported.
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Taborn is expected to address concerns about safety on the transit system at a public forum Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Metro headquarters (600 Fifth St. NW, DC). The event is sponsored by the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council and the Transit Police department. He is also expected to give a report Thursday to Metro’s board of directors at its monthly meeting. __________________________________________________________
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