Is crime on Metro up or down? Depends on how you look at it

Metro Transit police’s five-year crime report from 2013 through 2017 shows Part I (serious) crimes broken down by category. (Courtesy Metro Transit Police Department)

WASHINGTON — While the number and rate of the most serious crimes in the Metro system have fallen, the numbers of less serious crimes, arrests and citations have spiked over the last five years.

In the second half of 2017, the Part I (serious) crime rate in the Metrorail and bus system, that usually gets the most attention, fell again to 4.4 per million trips. The number of Part II crimes, though, which include offenses like simple assaults, vandalism, fraud, offenses with weapons, disorderly conduct and certain sex offenses other than rape, has consistently risen over the last five years, Metro data show.

“We go after all crime on the system,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Thursday.

At a D.C. Council hearing Wednesday, Wiedefeld said Metro is part of the community and deals with similar crime issues as localities across the region.

In 2017, Metro reported 4,068 Part II offenses, mainly in the rail system. The number of those lesser offenses has increased each year since 2013, when there were 2,946 Part II offenses.

The number of arrests by Metro Transit police has also steadily increased over the last five years from 1,884 in 2013 to 3,266 in 2017. A fare evasion crackdown contributed to a dramatic spike in the number of citations and summonses issued in the system last year.

The 15,691 citations and summonses issued by Metro Transit Police in 2017 are about three times the number in each 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The number of separate written warnings doubled in 2016 and 2017 compared to the three previous years.

“There’s lots of factors that drive those numbers. We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can, and that’s what we focus on,” Wiedefeld said.

Metro now expects a total of 46 stations to have more secure emergency exit swing gates by summer as part of the fare evasion crackdown.

In 2017, there were 1,282 Part I crimes reported across the rail and bus systems, down from around 1,600 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and from 2,125 in 2013.

In the last six months of 2017, Metro said the crime rate in the rail system was 3.9 per million passenger trips, and the Part I crime rate in the bus system was 1.9 per million passenger trips.

Since there are more riders in the rail system than the bus system, the total Part I crime rate in the second half of 2017 was 4.4 per million trips, down from 5.4 a year earlier and 5.6 the year before that.

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