WASHINGTON--The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors this morning voted to create an oversight board of the Metro Transit Police Department.

The following statement can be attributed to Monica Hopkins, Executive Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia:

“By voting to create an oversight panel of the Metro Transit Police Department, the WMATA board has taken a first step forward in its stated commitment to “address systemic racism” within the transit system. 

“However, what we have seen lacks detail and an understanding of how MTPD officers’ actions have eroded public trust. For far too long, Metro Transit Police Officers have used excessive force with impunity: tackling, harassing, tasering, and pepper-spraying riders, predominantly riders of color. 

“To be effective, the newly created oversight panel must be an independent body that has the power to investigate specific incidents of MTPD officer misconduct, and have the authority not just to issue reports, but to actually recommend and implement changes, including discipline. 

“The WMATA Board should also provide the public an opportunity to weigh in on this body and other accountability and transparency measures Metro should adopt to restore public trust in our transit system, such as rescinding gag orders as conditions of settlements in transit police misconduct cases.