Metro’s first five Silver Line stations, including Wiehle-Reston East, open on Saturday. Fairfax County Police
Chief Ed Roessler says that combining an increased population with urban-style gathering spots does increase the chances for crime. But it doesn’t mean it has to increase actual crime rates.
“The opportunity for crime is more prevalent when you open up a Metro station,” says Roessler. “What you see are breaking into cars late at night and more people traveling corridors from platform to garage and pedestrian pathways. That is what we are concerned about and we have taken action to prevent that.”
Roessler says FCPD has been planning for crime prevention around the new transit areas for many years — about as long as Metro’s five-year course of building the Silver Line.
The FCPD, boosted by additional funding from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to add nine positions to the department, created the Tysons Urban Team in 2013. The police department’s five-year strategic plan calls for a similar unit in Reston, says Roessler.
However, officers at all stations have been undergoing urban police training for much longer, the chief said. Reston Town Center has always had bike and foot patrols — two of the core urban policing strategies. Additional bike and foot patrols are also in place at Hunters Woods Village Center, and will be at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station.
Crime around Metro stations is actually quite low in Virginia, says Metro. The transportation agency says there were 7.1 serious crimes per million riders overall in 2013, with far more in D.C. and parts of Maryland. The majority — 70 percent — were thefts, says Metro Police Chief Ron Pavlik. He said that the Virginia stations are some of the safest in the system.
“Typically, crime on Metro is reflective of crime rates in the surrounding communities,” he says. “We don’t see a lot of ‘Part I’ (violent) offenses in Virginia.”
Fairfax County saw a drop in every violent crime category in 2013. In the Reston District in 2013, there were 654 assaults (compared to 765 the previous year). There was a rise in robberies though, from 27 in 2012 to 37 in 2013.
Still, Metro’s 491 sworn officers are being prepared to prevent crime. The agency hired 26 officers and 15 civilian employees in advance of the Silver Line opening. Transit police have trained with county police. Reston District Station officers have also done safety seminars for students, said Lt. Ken Baine, Reston Assistant Commander.
Pavlik says riders will see a high police presence the first few weeks the Silver Line is open. But riders still need to be aware to stay safe. He offers these tips:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Put yourself close to other customers if you feel you are being followed.
- Put your cell phone away when not in use.
- If you see something, say something. You can text tips to Metro police dispatch at “MyMTPD” or 202-962-2121 or 911.
- Use the emergency call buttons located throughout each station. It will ring through to the station manager.