Metro is stepping up efforts to stop something a lot of passengers say is a far too common problem during their commutes: indecent exposure.
In 2011 Metro received 84 reports of sex offenses. Almost half, 40, were for indecent exposure.
Metro police say the confined space of a rail car gives someone bent on exposing themselves a captive audience. It can be a disturbing and frightening experience for some passengers.
Sometimes at night when you are traveling along it's kind of desolate,” says Allison Latham, a Metro commuter.
In D.C., Metro police complained local laws prevented them from effectively corralling flashers. Unlike in Maryland and Virginia, in the city Metro, police only can make an arrest if they witnessed the exposure.
“If the officer does not observe the actual activity the only thing he can do is identify the suspect and ask the victim to get a warrant for the suspects arrest,” says Deputy Chief Leslie Campbell of the Metro Transit Police.
Now the city council is considering altering the laws to give Metro police the ability to make arrests.
This comes as part of Metro's overall effort to curb sexual harassment. It launched a website and is circulating leaflets encouraging victims to report offenses.
It's a pain and it’s not right for them to be doing it,” says Latham. “But you get used to it I guess.”