Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Responding to a survey that found that nearly one-fourth of riders were victims of unwanted sexual behavior on buses and trains, Metro introduced a public-information campaign Thursday aimed at combating such harassment.

The “It’s Off Limits” campaign will encourage victims and witnesses to report sexual harassment to sheriff’s officials using a hotline or a smartphone app.

Several Metro board members — including county Supervisors Mark Ridley- Thomas and Sheila Kuehl — took part in a news conference at Union Station to unveil the campaign, which will include advertisements on buses and trains and on transit video monitors. The ads encourage people to report sexual harassment to the sheriff’s (888) 950-SAFE (7233) hotline or by using the LA Metro Transit Watch safety app, which includes a feature that allows the user to snap a photo of a perpetrator.

“With a description of the suspect and the time and place of the assault, sheriff’s investigators have a better opportunity to make an arrest of a sexual criminal,” according to sheriff’s Transit Policing Division Chief Ronine Anda.

A ridership survey of 22,604 riders conducted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and released in February found that 22 percent had been victims of unwanted sexual behavior, including touching, exposure or inappropriate comments in the previous six months.

Metro officials noted that its customer relations office and Sheriff’s Department received just 99 complaints in 2014. Of the complaints, 62 were for unwanted touching and 31 people reported indecent exposure. The complaints resulted in 20 arrests.

“The rate of reporting is woefully low and indicates that transit customers do not have faith that such behavior can be addressed,” Kuehl said.

—City News Service

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