Metro Speaks Up: ‘We’re On Top of the Sexual Harassment Issue’

TRANSIT WATCH--A story in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times examines sexual harassment on the Metro system.

Metro is one of the few transit agencies worldwide that queries its passengers on sexual harassment and we have launched the most successful campaigns of its kind to combat the practice that can range from annoying to criminal.

Metro formed a partnership with the advocacy organization Peace Over Violence, which is an internationally recognized authority on the subject. “If left unchecked, sexual harassment can be a testing ground that may lead to ever escalating and more dangerous behaviors,” said Peace Over Violence Executive Director Patti Giggans. “Metro saw the problem and had the courage to face it and take aggressive steps to combat sexual harassment.”

In April, we debuted “It’s Off Limits” to encourage victims and witnesses of sexual harassment to make a report to the Sheriff’s hotline 888.950.SAFE (7233). That line rings at the Sheriff’s Transit Policing Division dispatch desk and help can be sent without delay. Also, every rail car is equipped with an emergency button that notifies the operator of trouble on board and the train operator knows how to get help right away. Bus riders can notify the operator, or use their cell phone to call the hotline or 911 to get local police.

Metro also has an award-winning smartphone app, LA Metro Transit Watch for iPhone and Android devices that allows users to make a digital report to the Sheriff’s dispatch center and include a photograph of the harasser. 

In July, every Metro employee was given simple instructions to follow in the event a person who has been victimized approaches them for assistance. They are instructed to call for medical help if necessary, learn what happened and where, notify authorities, provide a description of the suspect and stay with the person until help arrives.

Some people wrongly think that sexual harassment is something that must be tolerated. We disagree and our campaign resulted in a decline from 22 percent to 19 percent in incidents of sexual harassment. To put those numbers in context, New York City has a sexual harassment rate of 63 percent and many large transit agencies in other countries are higher still.

We’re not resting on our laurels. A new, updated, campaign will be launched soon to engage more people and put harassers on notice that they can’t hide and we’ll prosecute when we catch them.

(Paul Gonzales writes for Metro’s The Source.) 

-cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 70

Pub: Aug 28, 2015

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