Metro is making a series of improvements to better support victims of sexual harassment on the Metro Bus and Rail system. Victims are encouraged to first call 888-950-7233 or text 213-788-2777 to report sexual harassment incidences..
Marketing began to promote the new sexual harassment message on our system earlier this month. Metro’s law enforcement agency partners — which include the Los Angeles Police Department, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Long Beach Police Department, Metro Transit Security and private security — will be responding to sexual harassment incidents as a high priority. Victims are also encouraged to report incidents in person to a law enforcement officer or to security personnel when possible.
If the victim’s report indicates the harassment raised to the level of a prosecutable crime, law enforcement will arrest the suspect or complete a crime report.
Sexual harassment is any unwanted touching, comments and gestures, and is prohibited on Metro per the agency’s Customer Code of Conduct. According to the Fall 2019 customer satisfaction survey conducted by Metro, 22 percent of respondents reported personally experiencing sexual harassment in the previous six-month period. Metro understands it needs to reduce these numbers to retain current riders and attract new riders.
This is important: even if it doesn’t appear the harassment could be prosecuted or lead to an arrest, Metro law enforcement will still document the incident on the same mobile phones that are used to validate Metro fares. That will allow information to be sent to each policing agency to help identify trends or even suspects.
Victims of sexual harassment while on Metro who call the numbers above will receive a referral to Metro’s “It’s Off Limits” 24/7 sexual harassment support hotline where they can receive counseling support. In the past, victims have been directed to reach out for counseling services. Metro is now emphasizing where possible to work with law enforcement prior to seeking counseling support. Ideally, this will reduce confusion for the victim and allow law enforcement and security personnel to reduce sexual harassment incidents.
Metro’s System Security and Law Enforcement Department has enhanced their community policing model, requiring all law enforcement officers to take sensitivity training. Officers have received specialized training on how to meet the needs of riders who are victims of sexual harassment while on Metro’s system by providing support, reassurance, patience, documentation of offenses and providing victims referrals to counseling, if necessary. The agency understands that victims of sexual harassment on the system need to feel their concerns and experiences are legitimate, that the incident was not their fault and that Metro will listen and take action.
The agency’s enhanced sensitivity training is the direct result of recommendations from Metro’s Women and Girls Governing Council and supported by findings from Metro’s “Understanding How Women Travel” report issued last year. The report showed — yet again — that safety and security is one reason that many women are reluctant to ride Metro.
For more information on Metro’s System Security and Law Enforcement Programs, please visit https://www.metro.net/riding/safety-security/.