House committee calls for improved Metro crime communication

WASHINGTON — A day after news surfaced of an attempted rape on Metrorail, members of a House committee called for more transparency when crimes occur on the transit system.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld testified before the House Transportation Committee Tuesday about what he is doing to make Metro run better after a series of safety lapses as well as its major program to revamp and improve the system.

During the hearing, Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., pressed Wiedefeld about a reported sexual assault and rape that happened on a Glenmont-bound Red Line train on April 12. While the incident happened more than a month ago, it didn’t come to light until Monday.

Metro’s surveillance video from the Glenmont station helped identify the suspect, who was promptly arrested. Wiedefeld said since it was solved quickly, notice of it was not made right away.

“While that was resolved quickly, the public at large did not know about it, and reading the blog, that’s something that everyone is concerned about,” Comstock said.

Comstock urged immediate notification through social media, and Wiedefeld promised to do that.

Lawmakers criticized the transit agency for its operations and costs, but Wiedefeld was generally given respectful — even friendly — treatment.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., presented a certificate to the general manager based on his progress since Metro found a total of 27 problems with power cables or connections in March.

“This is a certificate of appreciation, and I’ll probably make these into gold, silver and bronze. You’re going to get a silver since you actually responded since March 18 and took action and fired people,” Mica said.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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