Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Metro Taking Sexual Harassment Seriously?


Update From Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS): 
Although these experiences shed light on how WMATA and the MTPD needs to improve in their response to sexual harassment and assault on the system, we strongly encourage bystanders and victims to report these crimes to WMATA and the MTPD. The more we take these crimes seriously, the more WMATA and the MTPD cannot ignore the complaints. Please report online and on the phone. If Transit Police don't respond, please inform CASSwith a tweet @SafeSpacesDC or sending them an email at 
 Please CC this blog as well please.

Metro's much ballyhooed efforts to curb sexual harassment got a lot of press, but it would appear there's still a lot of work to be done to live up to the hype.

From Laura who wrote the following to the Kojo Nnamdi show during Metro GM Richard Sarles' Jan. 14 appearance on the show:
I reported being groped at the Capitol Heights Metro station on Dec. 21. I contacted the Metro police, and they arrived 30 minutes later. I filed a report. About a week later, I received a phone call from an investigating officer who reviewed camera footage at the wrong time of day. The incident occurred at 8:10 p.m., but for some reason, the officer reviewed footage at 8:10 a.m. I told the officer this but have heard nothing since.

Here are my concerns:
Responding officers were only able to arrive by Metro car, which delayed response.
When officers are on the Metro train, they are sometimes completely incommunicado due to lack of radio coverage. That means an officer might be on his own on a car, without the ability to call for backup.
There appears to be a bureaucratic delay in reviewing camera footage.
Signs on Metro cars give a false sense of security that groping and inappropriate behavior will be dealt with.
On the air, Sarles reassured her that something would be done.

It took a further nine days--until Jan. 23--before anyone got back to Laura. Now, more than a month has gone by since Laura was groped.

I asked Laura if it was fair to say it took Metro over a month to take this case seriously.

She said:
Yes. I think so. However, I don't at all fault any of the officers I've dealt with.

Based on the signs in the Metro cars, it looks like Metro leadership/marketing want to give the impression that they take groping seriously. But yet, they clearly don't have the resources to deal with it. The night of this incident, I think there was some type of shooting (I overheard it on the officers' radio), and that's certainly a higher priority. I don't think they have enough resources. But if women don't feel safe on the Metro, that's one more reason to drive instead.
For what it's worth, the perv in question was wearing a FedEx jacket - looked like it could have been an employee jacket. The whole groping thing happened right by a camera. 
Other items: 
Riders stranded for two hours (ABC7)
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