The safety committee of Metro’s board of directors approved a plan Thursday that would lead to a ban for people who are arrested and charged with sex- or weapons-related offenses while on Metro property.
The proposal now heads to the full board for a vote.
Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik told committee members that there had been an uptick in sex-related offenses on Metro in the past 18 months, including indecent exposures.
Pavlik said those arrested for such offenses are often released soon after they are taken into custody, and able to board trains or buses immediately.
“It’s definitely another tool for police officers to use,” Pavlik said. “The jurisdictional court systems do their best, and we feel as an organization, and I feel as the chief of police, that I need to do more to protect our employees and our riders.”
Under the plan, people arrested would initially face a 14-day transit ban. If they are arrested for a second offense, the suspension would increase to 30 days. A third offense would trigger a suspension of one year.
Pavlik told the committee that it would be too difficult to ban or limit individual SmarTrip accounts.
“We did not go into that level of detail and try to suspend someone’s SmarTrip card from working,” he said.
For that reason, Pavlik said that someone who is banned could technically still board a bus or a train without automatically being stopped. However, he said they would be arrested for trespassing if they were to be stopped by a police officer for any reason.
Pavlik said the ban would be helpful in stopping “repeat offenders” from getting back on the transit system.
People who are suspended would have the ability to appeal their suspension.
Transit agencies around the country have implemented similar rules, including LA Metro, San Francisco’s BART, Dallas’s DART and Atlanta’s MARTA.