Metro police trying to combat rowdy teen riders

WASHINGTON — The Metro Transit Police chief is responding to concerns about rowdy teenagers in the Metro system.

Metro Board Member Michael Goldman said that a Maryland rider reached out with safety concerns, especially about experiences around 3 or 4 in the afternoon on school days.

“Some things that are fairly upsetting: bike riding on station platforms, discharge of fire extinguishers, kicking rail car windows, fights, horseplay on the platforms,” Goldman said.

He asked Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik earlier this month what the plan is for addressing such behavior.

Pavlik says he has been trying to address some of the issues through the Respect Your Ride ad and teen outreach campaign, which was launched in 2013.

“I think some of the behavior that you’re talking about is horseplay. If you saw it on the playground or on a street corner, you wouldn’t give it a second look, but because it’s in a confined environment on a railcar, it’s the abusive language, it’s the horseplay and things. So what we’ve been doing — we just started with Prince George’s County this year, but last year we spent a great (amount) of time in D.C. Public Schools,” Pavlik said.

There are separate concerns about some juveniles involved in violent acts in the Metro system, including a recent attempted robbery on a Red Line train that left a man with a broken jaw.

Metro told WTOP Thursday that the investigation into that attack is ongoing, and no arrests have been made.

The goal of the Respect Your Ride program was “reducing incidents of violence and injuries in the Metro system that involve young riders.” It includes the presentations in schools.

“Really educating our young riders to tell them the dangers, that it is not a place to play because there are a lot of inherent risks and dangers within a Metro station,” Pavlik says.

Metro Board Member Malcolm Augustine praised the outreach to other parts of the community, like seniors to ensure that they understand what Metro is doing to address security issues.

He went to a community meeting for seniors this month hosted by Maryland state Sen. Joanne Benson, where a transit police sergeant and officer explained what the police force does.

“They talked about cameras, they talked about the chemical monitoring that you’re doing, and I just felt like those people came away feeling a little bit more secure, which I think is a very good thing, and I think it’s also important that the officers continue to be visible, out there, (and) talking to citizens,” Augustine says.

Pavlik says getting out to the community is a challenge, because transit police are responsible for only defined parts of such a large region.

He says schools and community members can help by recognizing areas that would benefit from extra outreach.

“Really it’s getting those doors open, and not just calling us after the fact, but call us before,” Pavlik says.

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