WASHINGTON - After a public outcry and complaints from Congress, there has been a big shakeup in Metro Transit Police policy. On Tuesday, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has ordered the police department to publicly report violent crimes on the same day when it happens.
The move comes after a congressional hearing aimed at improving Metro's safety turned into a grilling of Wiedefeld over why an alleged attempted rape on a Red Line train last month was not revealed to the public until Monday.
Metro Transit Police announced the policy change on Twitter three hours after this House Transportation Committee hearing ended.
Metro GM has directed MTPD to make public notification of any violent crime the same day where doing so will not hinder investigation #wmata— Metro Transit Police (@MetroTransitPD) May 24, 2016
There were puzzled reactions as Wiedefeld told Congress the reason Metro didn't disclose that a woman was sexually assaulted at knifepoint on a Red Line train on April 12 was because it was solved in hours and the suspect was apprehended.
But the alleged crime was only made public 41 days after the incident when the suspect appeared in court. Wiedefeld defended Metro's decision not to tell the public what happened when FOX 5 asked how this fits in with his promise to be transparent.
"Again, we captured the person in hours,” Wiedefeld said. “I will take a look at it and if we need to report every day, we will report every day. Things happen every day. If we want to put out a daily police blotter, we will put out a daily police blotter. Again, I'm not hiding anything about it. It was something that was dealt with and that is what we did.”
But two of the DMV's delegation, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), teamed up to make it clear that they are not satisfied with Wiedefeld’s explanation about the lack of public disclosure of the sexual assault last month.
"I raised [the issue] because I saw it on the blogs, because I saw the concern and I have the concern myself,” said Comstock.
“If crime occurs, you should say the crime has occurred and this is what we are doing about it,” said Norton. “You don’t keep it from the public.”
The suspect in this crime, 39-year-old John Hicks of Washington D.C., is being held in Montgomery County without bond. He is charged with attempted first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault.
He is scheduled to be back in court on June 10.