A moment of silence for a mechanic who died while trying to protect passengers from a gunman at the Potomac Avenue Metro Station preceded the announcement of a collaboration between D.C. police and Metro to increase law enforcement visibility within the transit system.
D.C. police Chief Robert Contee and Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Anzallo joined Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke Wednesday in a news conference to talk about the new partnership that aims to “enhance public safety and security on the transit system.”
The partnership will increase police presence, and MPD will be the first partner.
Starting next week until June, five stations in D.C. will have uniformed police officers on patrol with Metro Transit Police during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
The patrols will start at five stations — Metro Center, Gallery Place, Georgia Avenue-Petworth, Congress Heights and Union Station. They were chosen based on crime data.
“Those are the stations that we have the most crime and complaints and disorder problems, so that’s why we chose those stations,” Anzallo said.
Clarke said that with presence of D.C. police, the transit agency will have more officers directly on Metro trains and buses, up to more than a 60% increase in patrols in vehicles. Clarke said Metro is having conversations with other jurisdictions about a similar partnership.
It will work similarly to the initiative that has police officers on the DC Streetcar. Officers will sign up for the voluntary detail with Metro, but they will be and in uniform. Contee said they want to make sure that there is adequate supervision so that those who signed up are not on the clock with D.C. police during the Metro patrols.
Each of the five stations would have two officers and a supervisor Monday to Friday from 6 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m., Anzallo said, with some flexibility built in depending on the need.
“The toughest challenge is that … it’s a huge system. It traverses … three jurisdictions, Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. And I think sometimes folks lose sight of that. We have a huge bus system, as well. So … the more we can get out on rail cars and platforms, and buses and parking lots … that helps us out with our crime, as far as trying to reduce it,” Anzallo said.
Clarke also cited other actions Metro has taken, including increased patrols, the camera program and the hiring of mental health crisis specialists or intervention officers.
“So we’re really looking at this from a compassion, a camera and a cops point of view, the three C’s is how we’re looking at it at Metro,” Clarke said.
Potomac Avenue Metro not included in list of stations
Potomac Avenue was not included on the list of the five stations announced in the partnership.
“I want to reiterate, we have a lot of law enforcement at Metro Transit Police that are out all day, all night long. This is supplemental because we just don’t believe right at the moment we have enough officers to cover the whole system,” Clarke, the Metro GM, said.
Clarke said that Metro Transit Police is on detail at the Potomac Avenue station from opening to closing, and it’s a station where Metro wants to have a good police presence.
That’s the station where Metro worker Robert Cunningham was killed and three other people were hurt after a gunman opened fire last week. D.C. police arrested Isaiah Trotman, 31, of Southeast D.C., in connection to the shooting.
Colleagues remembered the 64-year-old longtime employee as someone who was “dedicated to making sure that the system ran great not just for himself or a job, but for everybody else around, for his co-workers to be safe, for the public to get back and forth; he genuinely cared.”
During the news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Bowser also acknowledged D.C. government employee Shante Trumpet, who she said was able to get the gun away from Trotman.
“We as a community are so grateful for Ms. Trumpet’s courage, as well. We also know that no one in our city or region should be in a position where they need to wrestle a gun away from anyone,” Bowser said.