Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teenage Riot in a Public Station

Over the past weeks, we've had a lot of email and a lot of comments from readers complaining about groups of unruly teens making commuting both unpleasant and, in some cases, scary. In one incident, kids were throwing firecrackers at Gallery Place and nothing was done.

When we started digging around the WMATA Web site, we were surprised to find that MTPD Deputy Chief Jeri Lee said he uses "approximately 90 percent of his resources during after-school hours ... to address juvenile misbehavior."

The problem is significant enough that he has daily conference calls with DCPS and the D.C. Department of Social Services "to anticipate and address issues."

He went on to say "that Metro deals with an influx of approximately 10,000 juveniles every afternoon, and MTPD officers try to make their presence known to discourage inappropriate behavior.

He also said that officers cannot necessarily distinguish between horseplay and more serious behavior when it is occurring and that officers need to respond to all unruly behavior. He noted that MTPD officers have taken several guns from juveniles, which underscores the potential for incidents to escalate."

Lee said that MTPD’s average response time is 11-13 minutes, largely because officers on foot patrol have to rely on getting to incidents via train and bus.

During the October Riders' Advisory Council meeting, Lee said MTPD was going to set up a hot line to report juvenile behavior, but we could find no reference to it on the WMATA Web site.

Apparently, they did. The number is 202-962-2118. Read the release here.

Deputy Chief Lee said that he wasn’t aware of any specific issues related to intoxicated individuals riding the Metro.

Have you noticed a problem with rowdy teens? We've heard Rhode Island Ave., Tenleytown and Gallery Place have problems. Where else?

Other items:
Another suicide (WaPo)
NTSB to bring in state oversight officials from around country (Examiner)


Brian said...

I concur with the problems at Galleryplace. Apparently it has become a gathering place for students on the way to school who take the opportunity to roughhouse, blocking the way for commuters and knocking into them on the already too small red line platform.

This morning, I saw a group trying to toss one of their own over the edge of the platform which would have put the kid on the track below. I looked for a WMATA employee - of course there were none, but several commuters appeared to making calls to report the incident.

Another practice that has started is charging the doors immediately after opening, pushing against the exiting passengers with lots of squealing and screeching. I saw an annoyed commuter take a swing at the head of once of these obnoxious teenagers.

Commuting should not be a scene from The Lord of the Flies.

Howard said...

I encounter this almost every day during my morning commute through Gallery Place. The teens purposefully place themselves on the red line platform blocking the transfer from green/yellow to Red line towards Shady Grove. And that transfer is already impossible because the entire trainload has to pass that single point (who designed this system anyways...). Sometimes I see MTP there, but usually not doing much.

Malnurtured Snay said...

I HATE Tanleytown.

If I'm lucky, and I catch a bus right when I get to my stop from work, I can get to a Metro station (either Medical Center, Bethesda, or Grosvenor) early enough to catch a train and beat the kid crowd ... but this is one of those deals where if I'm not on a train enroute to Tenleytown by like 3:20 (from Friendship Heights) they're on the train loud, noisy, rowdy, rude ... hate 'em. HATE THEM.

Anonymous said...

How about we make kids take school buses to/from school instead of Metro?

No children ages 10-18 on Metro anytime.

Anonymous said...

This is off-thread, but I don't know how to submit. Is there some potential strike in the works by Metro employees? I was on a Blue Line train at 8:23 this morning stopped at Farragut West going towards Metro Center. While we were stopped, there was a Metro employee on the station's public address system asking riders to sign some card in support of metro employees in a dispute with management. She said something about the employees not having shut Metro down. Implicit in her statement was a "yet." My impression was that the train spent longer than usual in the station with the doors open, so that all of us on the train could hear it. Is that an appropriate use of Metro's PA system? How do we feel about the threat?

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

AND a Sonic Youth reference. A+

Joshua Davis said...

@ Anonymous 9:29

Bad idea, just pushes more costs back on DCPS. Also there are plenty of responsible kids that use Metro in school time hours, as a dual enrolled high school student at community college I was one of those students. Of course no body does articles on all the teenagers that don't cause a problem on the system.

How about Metro just ban the particular trouble makers. If we have to give you a warning say two times then you can't be on the system any more.

Anonymous said...

I was on a train with a bunch of rowdy teenagers last year from approximately Fort Totten to Gallery Place. They were swinging from the overhead bars, jumping up and down on the seats, chasing each other, and even throwing glass bottles at each other. One almost hit me, but luckily I was in the very back of the car behind the partitioning thing by myself.

Anonymous said...

I commute from Friendship Heights to Potomac Ave via Metro and have to agree that the kids that get on at Tenleytown can be unbearably annoying. Oftentimes they come aboard eating food and generally rough housing. The other day I swear the kids were trying to open the rear door of the last train. They then proceeded to run up and down the aisle while yelling at each other. And they do this because they know they can get away with it. I remember being rowdy on the school bus growing up, but we weren't generally putting ourselves or others in danger.

Looking at the other comments I'm glad I switch at Metro Center and not Gallery Place The kids are physically blocking and pushing against other passengers? I have to wonder why Metro doesn't just station some transit police permanently at high traffic stations, seeing as it apparently takes 11-13 minutes to reach a station.

Anonymous said...

I'm an employee AND student at GWU, and around 4pm every day, Foggy Bottom becomes inundated with teenagers rough-housing and clowning around above ground and on the platform, blocking the single down escalator to the platform. So far, they are only loud and obnoxious, but having encountered rowdy adolescents at Gallery Place numerous times, I worry Foggy Bottom will turn into Gallery Place. I avoid Gallery Place at all times, if at all possible. It gets dangerous at Gallery Place!

Anonymous said...

Metro Transit Police did set up a text message hotline. The number is 202-962-2118. You can report any incidents there.

Anonymous said...

Slight correction: It's a message hotline (as in, you call and get to leave a message). See link.


Dan Franzen said...

This used to be a daily problem for me at Dupont Circle. (It's not now, because I depart later.) Around 3:30 pm, the platform on the Glenmont side would be overcrowded, and there would be no way to avoid being on a car with scores of teenagers. Granted, there are probably many that weren't unruly or inappropriate, but their peaceful behavior was completely obscured by the ADHD attitudes of their brethren. I'm talking running up and down the aisle, moving from seat to seat, pushing other people, screaming at their friends three feet away, and generally behaving as if they were riding a school bus.

I know it's not fair to paint everyone with the same broad brush, but it's not just a few small pockets of troublesome kids, it's many large pockets.

Unsuck DC Metro said...

Thanks anon10:53. Changed the post to reflect this.

Anonymous said...

There are no cheap ways to solve this problem.

To fully tame the "unruly mob of teenager" problem - You would need a full and well trained police force
- outside of the stations
- on both sides of the platforms
- and in every train car along the affected routes

In essence, you can't give these kids a chance to act up - so you have to have an after school police state for a few hours.

In more suburban areas, ones w/o public transportation, the kids jump in their cars and create mayhem on the road in one way or another.

The whole thing is largely unavoidable.

And the kids who cause the most trouble can't be reached by well meaning after school programs or part time employment.

Though some of you forget, that is the age of rebellion.

Anonymous said...

This may be one case where "all hands on deck" makes sense. Flood the system with cops and start making arrests. Done.

Anonymous said...

Thurston would be proud.

Anonymous said...

I get on the Red Line at Farragut North. When I see a train full of those kids I just don't get on it. Fortunately, they tend not to be in many successive trains, and I would rather lengthen my commute by another 5 or 10 minutes than spend another minute of my life in the rolling zoo they turn a car into.

Anonymous said...

I see many kids on the orange line in the evenings. Surprisingly, most are not unruly. Perhaps I am just hitting a lucking "time." There was the one time they were throwing empty plastic bottles at each other and hit me in the face. They laughed at me for the tears in my eyes (it hurt!) I reported it to metro. Never got a response.

This is not an easy problem to solve. How can cops or metro "fix" the problem of children not be taught how to behave in public? Perhaps the teen's parents should get the tickets on behalf of their child. Hit mom and dad in the wallet and MAYbe they'll actually take an interest in their own offspring.

Anonymous said...

Occasionally I get on a Shady Grove-bound train at Union Station around 5:15pm that is full of uniformed school kids. From this post I can only assume they're getting on at Rhode Island Ave perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Last weekend I was on my way home when these kids started cursing up a storm just shouting out loud curse words.....for no reason....then using vulgar words towards others....just all around pathetic

Me and others approached them to tell them to calm down and they tried to back talk in which we grabbed them and put them against the wall of the metro and some of their friends tried to attack us and we fend them off.

It almost caused a real brawl but it goes to show how absolutely pathetic some of our teenagers are these days.

Anonymous said...

What if every person, at the same time, suddenly pulled out cell phones (even if they still don't work underground; who'd know?) and loudly mentioned "calling the cops now." One person could get hurt but what do these brats do if everyone is apparently doing it at once? I know... wishful thinking. 9 out of 10 people will not get involved no matter what the situation.

Anonymous said...

@anon 10:22

"How about Metro just ban the particular trouble makers. If we have to give you a warning say two times then you can't be on the system any more."

Let's be real...that would require metro employees to actually DO something.

Joshua Davis said...

Anon 2:01

It would require them to do something, but under the plan to ban 10-18 year olds it would require workers to check the ID's of everyone around the age of around 8 to 20 too. If the cops come out, have to give someone a warning multiple times, then they get arrested for trespassing.

Dan Franzen said...

How would banning people work, practically speaking? They're not allowed to come back, okay - but how do you enforce that? Station managers would have to scan the hundreds of thousands of commuters daily to see if any of the banned ones were trying to sneak on. Sounds like a solution fraught with complications to me.

Silly Bus said...

I just came across this article and found it very interesting indeed.

Anonymous said...

When/how would they give these warnings and tickets when, in the 20+ years I have ridden metro not once have I seen a ticket or warning issued to anyone for eating/drinking violations? Another lovely idea way beyond the capabilities of metro.

Anonymous said...

They are a bunch of monkeys' at gallery place..

Kara said...

Not just at Gallery. I have seen teens acting up all over (the other day was at Pentagon City). At a much higher level than in past years though.

Anonymous said...

I ride the red line train from Silver Spring to Metro Center every day, Mon-Fri. At least 3 times a week, young groups of people take up a section of the train and commence using loud, offensive and vulgar language, with no regard to children and other passengers. Why should the majority of riders be subjected to this and held captive to this ongoing verbal abuse? Why aren't signs posted on passenger trains reminding riders to be courteous and respectful of other passengers' space? Why is this not made a criminal misdemeanor? When young groups of men start to display this behavior, it escalates to a point where it's almost frightening! I feel like I'm stuck in a jail cell and if I say anything I'll get jumped on. Enough is enough! Also, too many people using their cellphones also talk way too loud and riders should not have to be subjected to vulgar and offensive language which often include sex last night, bowel movements, female dogs that need something done to them, M.F.ers that are going to pay or have something done to them. What happened to texting? If you can get a signal on the metro, you can text. This disruption of the peace is becoming intolerable to most riders who often stay silent out of fear of reprisal.

Anonymous said...

Tenleytown-NW is only one of the countless locations that are inundated with these screaming, posturing, spitting and fighting teens. Why aren’t there more police both underground and above ground? I saw a group of 4-5 of these section-8 animals push down an elderly man one time while laughing and threatening him. But let’s be extra careful not offend the perpetrators after all…

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