On this second week of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) is joining transit police departments around the world to raise awareness of the issue of sexual harassment and assault on public transportation.
Through increased police visibility and customer awareness programs, the joint operation, called Global Guardian, is designed to send a message that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated on public transit.
“Every customer has the right to expect a safe ride without fear of being assaulted or harassed in any way," said Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik. "Through Global Guardian and our ongoing efforts, we are putting would-be harassers on notice that sexually inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated on Metro.”
Other transit police agencies participating in Global Guardian include British Transport Police (BTP), Transport for London (TfL), Metropolitan Police Service (London), Metro Vancouver Transit Police, Bay Area Rapid Transit Police (San Francisco), and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston).
Together with local advocacy groups, Metro has successfully implemented a number of tools to help victims of sexual harassment or assault report their experiences, including a web-based reporting form, enhanced training for police and front-line employees, on-system advertising and public reporting of trends. In addition, last year Metro supplemented their 24-hour police emergency phone line ( 202-962-2121) with a text tips feature that enables riders to communicate with Transit Police via text message to MyMTPD (696873).
"Stop Street Harassment applauds WMATA for taking a comprehensive approach to addressing sexual harassment on its transit system, including by tracking verbal harassment and looking for patterns, informing riders how to make reports, and training employees to be more aware of – and sensitive to – the issue,” said Holly Kearl, founder and executive director of Stop Street Harassment. “Sexual harassment is a problem on transit systems worldwide and we hope that other cities will look to WMATA as a model."
“We are truly appreciative of the support we have received from the advocacy community to improve our tracking and response to sexual harassment and assault concerns,” Pavlik said. “If someone has made you feel uncomfortable or harmed you in any way, we want to hear from you, even if it’s not a crime. Telling Transit Police about your experience can help our detectives identify trends and prevent others from becoming victims.”