Los Angeles

LA Council Wants to Know How LAPD is Fighting Sexual Harassment of Metro Riders

The LAPD took over patrol of Metro trains and buses within the city's limits last July 1

A City Council committee requested Wednesday that the Los Angeles Police Department report on efforts and strategies to combat sexual harassment of Metro riders.

According to a motion submitted by Councilwoman Nury Martinez, a survey of roughly 23,000 Metro riders conducted by the nonprofit organization Peace Over Violence showed that 22 percent of respondents had experienced sexual harassment while using the Metro system.

Martinez, who is not on the Public Safety Committee but addressed its members as it was discussing her motion, said she "would like to see in the future a comprehensive approach to address this issue ... more visibility and education on how to report these crimes, a better coordination with Peace Over Violence over what type of data they can ask and capture through their hotline, in order to get a comprehensive picture of what incidences are occurring with LAPD, so we can do a better job of combating these issues," she said.

Rather than forward the motion to the full City Council, the committee instead requested that the LAPD bring its report directly to the panel.

The LAPD took over patrol of Metro trains and buses within the city's limits last July 1, and Deputy Chief Bob Green, who is the commanding officer of the Transit Services Bureau, told the committee that a high level of sexual harassment and assault incidents on Metro are committed by "frequent flyers" who repeatedly get caught and prosecuted for offenses.

Green also said the department was working to implement a law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last September, that allows Metro to prohibit people from using the transit system for an amount of time if they have been convicted of committing certain crimes while riding its buses or trains, including any misdemeanor or felony to do with violence, lewd conduct or possession of controlled substances.

Green said the department is working to build a database of repeat offenders so it can implement Assembly Bill 468.

Councilman David Ryu said the fiance and mother of one of his staffers were sexually assaulted on a Metro train last month by a registered sex offender who is now in custody. Ryu said police knew immediately who the offender was based on the victims' description.

"This is a travesty that we need to stop immediately, for not just the protection of women who want to take these trains but for everyone," Ryu said.

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