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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 08:56 PM ET, 09/21/2011

Metro Transit Police chief addresses safety concerns

[This post has been updated]

Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said he would like to see local jurisdictions establish a program in which a juvenile’s behavior on the Metro bus and rail systems would be reported to the young person’s school and could have consequences for the student’s participation in school activities.

Taborn spoke Wednesday night at a public forum sponsored by the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council, a group that represents commuters on the transit system. He and five of his officers, supervisors and detectives addressed concerns of about half a dozen people who attended the forum.

The Transit Police chief said he also is working with Metro board member Jeff McKay of Virginia to help set up a program that would involve people from the group Explorers, a Scout-like program, to help deal with crowd control on the rail system.

Under the program to coordinate juveniles’ behavior on the transit system with schools, Taborn said he would like to see area jurisdictions help enact a policy where a young person’s behavior on buses and trains could be tracked and linked to a punishment from the school. The Metro Transit Police track warnings issued to juveniles, but there are no consequences.

Taborn said there is a similar system in place in the Dallas area for its public transit system.

“If there aren’t any consequences they’re going to carry on,” he said of young people’s behavior. “People pay a lot of good money to ride the train and they don’t want to deal with unruliness of juveniles.”

The event comes on the eve of Taborn giving his quarterly crime report Thursday to Metro’s board of directors.

Serious crime on the Metro system is down for the second quarter but there was a slight uptick in aggravated 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.

Audience members asked Taborn a range of questions, including whether his department had considered an alert system for those with hearing impairments in the event of an emergency and concerns about lights being out of service at bus stops at the Wheaton Metro stop. Others were concerned about police doing more to try to monitor the behavior of young people using the transit system.

People ranging in age from 10 to 23 years old commit 75 percent of the crime in the Metro rail system, according to Taborn. Most robbery snatchings are committed by young people, he said.

“We are the school bus of the District,” Taborn said, noting that young people use the bus and rail systems to get to and from school.

But the rowdy behavior of the younger people, he said, can at times cause “some concern with our regular riders because they don’t want to be subjected to that.”

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By  |  08:56 PM ET, 09/21/2011

 
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