A Metro committee has given the green light to a proposal that would bar riders who were arrested for sex or firearms related offenses on the transit system from entering Metro.
The approval for the temporary ban came on Thursday from the Metro Board of Directors Safety and Operations.
Over the past 18 months, there has been a rise in riders’ reporting of sex-related offenses on Metro, including indecent exposures, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
People arrested on Metro for sex or weapons related crimes are usually released on the same day pending a court date, and they tend to commit similar acts after re-entering the system.
— Metro (@wmata) July 15, 2021
“As the region continues to recover from the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to make Metro as safe as possible for our returning customers, from stepped up cleanings, improved air circulation and filtration, touchless payment, and more,” said Paul Smedberg, Metro Board of Directors Chair, in a release. “Keeping our customers and employees safe also means being smart about how we handle the most serious offenses we see on our trains, buses, and in our stations. This proposal would give us an additional tool to prevent sex and weapons related crimes on Metro, and I look forward to full Board consideration.”
If the ban passes, first time offenders would be banned from Metro for 14 days, second time offenders would be banned for 30 days, and the third offense would lead to a ban for 365 days.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a statement on Wednesday, calling on the Metro board to reject the proposal.
We're disappointed to see the @WMATA committee voted to advance this ill-conceived measure. If the past year of demonstrations for racial justice have taught us anything, it's that we need smarter solutions to public safety…
— ACLU of the District of Columbia (@ACLU_DC) July 15, 2021
“In our criminal legal system, people are innocent until proven guilty; if they vote for this, WMATA’s unelected board proposes to reverse that presumption and punish people based on accusations alone,” said Nassim Moshiree, Policy Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia.
The new policy, if approved, would cause more racially discriminatory stops and frisks and arrests by Metro Transit Police, according to ACLU.
The proposal needs to get a vote from the full board of WMATA to take effect. It is not clear yet when the voting will take place.
A recent report issued by Metro’s Inspector General found that Metro Transit Police failed to properly investigate over 3,000 criminal complaints, including those about robberies, sexual offenses, kidnappings, filed between 2010 and 2017.