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Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024
The Eagle
From: District Wire

D.C. targets violent crimes committed on Metro trains, buses

(Photo courtesy Metro)

Following the stabbing death of Kevin Sutherland aboard a Metro train on July 4, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration is considering stricter penalties for crimes committed on public transit.

Bowser said at a press conference Thursday she has requested Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue to “make sure the penalties for any crimes committed on public transit are robust.”

Afterward Bowser spoke, mayoral spokesperson Mike Czin said the administration will take a close look at the issue. Crime is “particularly horrific when it’s on public transportation,” he added.

The D.C. Council is out of session until September, when Bowser expects to have more details on what legislation she might consider to push. For now, the administration is floating various possible proposals, Czin said.

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Czin points to a number of recent crimes on Metro rail, including the murder of 2013 AU alumnus Sutherland and the beating of a man in June, which a video of went viral.

Assaults on Metro bus drivers have also led the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to implement new safety measures. The transportation agency will install video monitors in a pilot program on some X2 buses that will show passengers what security cameras on the buses record — in an effort to deter crime. On the X2 line, which runs from Benning Road to H Street in Northwest, four bus drivers have been assaulted this year, according to a press release from WMATA.

“The move is part of a multi-layered response that also includes enhanced fare enforcement … outreach campaigns … the installation of plexiglass dividers to protect bus operators, and enhanced penalties for those found guilty of assault,” the WMATA press release said.

Bowser said her administration is eyeing other legislative fixes as well to address an overall uptick in crime this summer, particularly homicides, which are up 20 percent this year. Her press conference followed a hour and a half long morning meeting with cabinet officials and Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

“Although violent crime in D.C. remains flat in this calendar year, we have an unacceptable spike in homicides this year,” Bowser said at the press conference. She added her public safety officials are reviewing crime statistics, reviewing policing tactics and identifying trends in violence.

The city is now implementing synthetic drug tests for suspects before trials, Bowser also announced. Synthetic drugs, also referred to as synthetic marijuana but which the city warns can cause side effects more similar to PCP, have been linked to a number of violent crimes.

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