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Today's read: Metro brawl strategy

The Post today featured news and opinion about the Friday night fight on Metrorail.

Handling fights that migrate: Metro Transit Police will escort potentially disruptive groups of people through the rail system in the wake of a weekend brawl that left several people injured, a senior police official said Tuesday. (Ann Scott Tyson)

Fight could have been worse: No guns, no knives, no deaths; a melee without mayhem on a Metro subway car? Looks like progress. (Courtland Milloy)

Local opinions
Seventy out-of-control youths are terrifying. But brawling, out-of-control youths are not new on Metro.
Steven Preister, Washington

Once again the Metro system appears to be in disarray. Why weren't more police at stops after Gallery Place on Friday night?
Walter Lee, Kensington

We discussed Metrorail fighting in my online chat Monday. Here are several of the reader comments that I didn't get a chance to publish during the chat.

Violence on Metro: I've been on Metro after school and it is frightening sometimes. I don't know if it's pack mentality or one-upsmanship but some of these kids have mouths that would scare a sailor not to mention young kids. Now when I see these kids boarding (I know ... I know ... it's not all of them) I get off the train. It's not worth the potential hassle or facts of life discussion required.

On Metro system fighting: Why are the police so lazy? Really, why? The District PD washes its hands of the problem as the kids rush down into Metro, failing to alert their colleagues on the Metro PD. Two Metro PD officers at L'Enfant supposedly "try" to pursue the fighters when they get there. Despite all the opportunities to respond, police take over 15 minutes at L'Enfant to arrive, and then they fail to take statements. Do they ask for cellphone video? That would be a "no." Surveillance video? Useless without interviewing witnesses to pin down who committed assault. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Mobs of teenagers: There have been several close cases where I or someone else was in very real danger of being knocked onto the tracks. I would assume that if I posed the question to Metro, they would tell me to notify a Metro employee, but generally, I can never find one. Is there anything that someone like me can say to these people within the bounds of good taste and manners? Simply because their behavior is dangerous. The one time a Metro employee was in the vicinity, he didn't do anything, despite the many grumbles and glares from the other riders.

Metro brawl: I don't know how this metro brawl over the weekend could really be a surprise to many people who frequent the system late at night or right after schools let out. While the size of this fight was unprecedented, I have frequently seen much smaller fights break out on the trains and on the platforms.

It is very scary as there is no barrier to prevent someone from being intentionally or inadvertently pushed onto the tracks. While I understand that it is impossible to have a transit cop on every train, I've never understood why there isn't a stronger presence on the platforms at some of the trouble stations during the trouble periods. People who ride the system know when there is trouble and what stations present problems -- Metro should know this as well.

DG: Metro police say they weren't caught by surprise when a boisterous crowd of young people entered the Gallery Place Station before 11 p.m. Friday. They know to expect that on a summer weekend night and there were officers inside the station. Police said they saw no crimes being committed, so they let a large group board a Green Line train in the direction of Branch Avenue. So far, so good, but as you can see from the details in Tyson's story today, police need to make sure they follow the big crowd through the system. By the time the train reached L'Enfant Plaza just a few minutes later, a fight had broken out, and there wasn't the same-size force at L'Enfant to handle it.

The Metro transit police force should be larger than it is. The existing force has too much turf to cover. Just seeing an officer means a lot to riders. Many riders are unsure what to do when they see a situation they think is borderline dangerous. Transit police advise that you call their communications center, 202-962-2121, and tell them what's going on. (I don't try to memorize it. I keep it on my mobile phone's speed dial.) Don't try to deal with the incident by yourself, police say. That can lead to all kinds of unintended consequences.

By Robert Thomson  | August 11, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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Comments

Metro can't even handle running adequate rush hour service. It's time to shut down night and weekend service until that changes.

Brawling animals just highlight the uselessness of such service.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 11, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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