MPD 1st District Community Advisory Committee held a virtual meeting last night. Among issues discussed was the recent gun violence at Potomac Avenue Metro.
Metro Transit Police Talk About Shooting at Potomac Avenue Metro Stop
by Larry Janezich
Posted February 8, 2023
Update: 5:00pm, Wednesday. After a Metro employees was killed a week ago, this afternoon Mayor Bowser announced a new public safety partnership between MPD and WMATA that would provide increased police presence at five Metro Stations in the city during the morning and evening commutes: Gallery Place, Metro Center, Union Station, Georgia Avenue, and Congress Heights. Metro Transit Police are already maintaining a higher presence – for the time being – at Potomac Avenue Metro.
Last night, Captain Beau Perrizo, Commander of Metro Transit Police (MPT) District 3, talked to the MPD 1st District Citizens Advisory Committee* about last week’s shootings at Potomac Avenue Metro Station. The virtual meeting which provides an opportunity for MPD brass to interact with residents is held monthly.
Perrizo said MTP was surprised at the recent gun violence at Potomac Avenue Metro because “we don’t usually face that issue.” In response to the shootings, he said, MTP has detailed a lot more officers to the 3rd District system by paying overtime. The increased presence includes plain clothes officers, Special Response Units, and Explosive Ordinance Disposal officers. He said that teams of plain clothes officers ride the buses every day.
Replying to a question from Robert Pittman, President of the 1st District CAC, about how long the increased police presence at Potomac Avenue Metro would last, Perrizo said that as always, staff is deployed based on crime data and complaints.
He added, “Transit crime is not often seen in the First MPD District and not at Potomac Avenue Metro Station. One tragic incident is the reason for increased police presence in this one station. There is no reason to believe it is an ongoing issue or related to crime in the overall system.” Near the end of the meeting, he offered a comment that provided additional insight on the shooting: “Since the pandemic, there are more mentally unwell people in the system and more people on edge.”
The MTP 3rd District includes rail and bus transit including the Branch Avenue, New Carrolton and Potomac Avenue stops as well as the stations up to L’Enfant Plaza. MTP jurisdiction extends to rail transit, buses, transit facilities, parking lots and to the area within 150 feet of any bus stop – although in the latter case MTP relies on MPD police for street crime.
Perrizo was also asked about fare evasion on Metro. (The city barred arrests but allowed citations for fare evasion in 2018, and enforcement effectively ceased. Metro estimates the loss of $40 million annually through fare evasion. Metro decided to enforce fare evasion by resuming issuing of citations last October.)
Perrizo said, “Metro is always looking for ways to enforce fare evasion but you can’t enforce your way out of the problem. Metro’s latest position is that they do not want to change the basic look and operation of the fare gates. Our system doesn’t operate like most systems. Our goal is to allow large numbers of people through small spaces. NYC turnstiles work because there are so many more stations. Metro is always looking for a better solution.”
He made the following points:
- DC is still experiencing a high level of fare evasions – issuance of citations ($50) has increased since Metro began citing fare evaders. There are different fines in different jurisdictions ($100 in MD and VA).
- The most effective way to keep the system safe is fare enforcement at the gate.
- The lowest incidence of transit crime is associated with highest the level enforcement of fare evasion.
- DC law provides no mechanism for requiring compliance (no arrests) – there is no application for civil violation if a jumper flees, ignores an officer, or refuses to provide ID.
L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station
Perrizo fielded another question about transit crime at L’Enfant Plaza. He noted that L’Enfant Plaza has its own MTP District – the 2nd District – which has the largest number of officers in the system. As a transfer point, more people move through the station. Many are juveniles and their coming together associated with dismissal from school results in fights, but, he said, there is not a lot of serious crime. There has been a reduction in disorderly conduct and misdemeanor assaults because there are a lot of officers here.
Overall, Perrizo said, the uptick in property crime and gun violence is scattered over the system. Younger adults don’t have anything going for them in life – there are more guns and simple arguments escalate. He said, “There was a time when juveniles were responsible for most of the crime. Now, half the crimes are committed by adults.”
According to ANC6B09 Commissioner Matt LaFortune, there will be a community safety meeting on Thursday from 6:30-8:00pm at Chamberlain Elementary School, 1345 Potomac Avenue, SE, for the neighbors around the Potomac Avenue Metro Station. MPD, Metro Transit Police and others will participate.
*The MPD 1st D Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) is one of the advisory panels in each police district that provides the district commander with information and recommendations from the community on the public’s safety problems and police service needs. Regular CAC meetings in each district allow residents to meet and discuss police-related issues with the commander. The meetings also provide an opportunity for police officials to assess the impact of their crime-fighting efforts on the community. See here: https://1dcac.com/ and here: https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/citizens-advisory-councils-cac