Metro PolicePosted: December 19, 2011
As most (all?) of my posts do, this starts with a disclaimer of sorts. What you are about to read is NOT a complaint or criticism of Metro police. I’ve actually never had any sort of meaningful interaction with them, nor needed to have such.
This is more about the fact that DC has about 93 separate police forces, and how Metro deals with this.
If you want MPD, you call 911. I’ve done this before. (I’ve also had a police officer knock on my door at around midnight. Not an experience I’d like to repeat, but this is completely irrelevant to the topic of this post.
If you want Capitol Police, I have no idea. Capitol Police may have the same issue as I am about to discuss regarding Metro police.
Say something happens, though, while you’re on Metro, and you think the appropriate response is to summon police? Do you call 911? You might, and I would hope that if you did, the dispatchers would transfer your call to the Metro police, but 911 is NOT the place to go.
Occasionally, you will hear announcements while you are in a Metro station. “If you see something suspicious in a Metro train, station, or bus, call the Metro Transit Police at 202…” It’s been a while since I’ve heard the announcement, though I take Metro twice a day at rush hour and Tuesday took it four times, so I might be paraphrasing. My key point is this: I need to remember an entire phone number that I am highly unlikely to need, in the event that I might need it? I can program it in my phone. (Not that I’ve done this, though I think I should every time I hear the announcement.) But a lot of tourists use Metro. Some people don’t keep phones long enough* to program phone numbers in them. The announcement isn’t terribly frequent (or I have terrible timing). And I don’t think that it’s posted conspicuously in stations OR on trains.
I’ve heard rumors of times when it hasn’t been clear which police force’s jurisdiction an incident falls under, and there has been a delay in response or a lot of “not me.” (Say something happens at the top of the escalator at Capitol South. Metro police? Capitol police? MPD?) Knowing the phone number to Metro police won’t help you there.
In case you need it, the number is 202-962-2121. Go program it in your phone.
*I was a foster parent to a 17 year old for six months. In the time she lived with me, she went through four phones and three phone numbers.