College Park residents are petitioning to have security cameras installed at the entrance of the Greenbelt Metro station, in response to crime that continues to plague the area.
In May, a teenage girl became the latest victim of violence when she was sexually assaulted at the metro's Lackawanna Street entrance at 6:30 p.m., when it was not yet dark. The incident spurred the latest action in an ongoing effort by residents to help prevent crime before it happens.
Fazlul Kabir, a resident of North College Park who is spearheading the petition, says the fact that the incident occurred while it was still light out makes it particularly disconcerting.
"The scary thing is that it was the daytime," he said. "That guy just took advantage of [the teenage girl] because there wasn't anyone else around. "
The approach of fall means the days will again be getting shorter, Kabir said, which will make the approximately 200 feet of inadequately lit path especially appealing to criminals.
Kennis Termini, who has been a resident of North College Park for 37 years, said that efforts to improve the safety around the metro have been on and off for some time.
"Every time we hear about something that happened, we all get reactivated again," she said "Metro waits for us to get all hyped up before they do anything."
After May's incident, the College Park City Council urged metro officials to clean up the overgrown brush surrounding the station, as it provided an ideal hiding place for potential criminals. Rather than simply trimming it, however, Metro entirely removed large swaths of plant life, which some residents felt unnecessarily destroyed the habitat for the many creatures that lived there.
"It's my understanding that they butchered the landscape," Termini said. "We asked for it to be trimmed back, not leveled."
Members of the Committee for a Better Environment plan to draft a letter at Monday night's meeting asking Metro to help replant some of the area, Termini said. Meanwhile, she hopes Metro will concede to resident's requests and take measures to prevent crime, rather than reacting to incidents only after they've occurred.
"They're like crisis workers," she said. "If there's a crisis, they come in like gang busters and tackle it."
Steven Taubenkibel, a spokesperson for WMATA, said that while all stations have cameras inside, only some have cameras positioned at the entrances.
One such station is Columbia Heights in Washington D.C. In this case, the cameras situated at the exterior of the station were actually paid for by the District of Columbia, not Metro, he said.
Taubenkibel could not comment in the cost of security cameras, or whether paying for them is an option for the city of College Park.
Nevertheless, residents here feel that it is Metro's responsibility to help curb violence on its premises.
"Whose property is it?" Termini asked. "It's theirs."
As of Monday morning, the petition for cameras has garnered 80 signatures online, and 65 on paper since Kabir began collecting them last Thursday. He and other residents plan to continue collecting signatures every morning during rush hour for the next week, and, with the support of the city council as well as state delegates, will send the petition to WMATA within the next month.
Termini said that while she doesn't expect the cameras to serve as a panacea, she does think it will help considerably.
"You can't stop crime, but you can deter it," she said. "We need to make it so the chance of getting caught is higher here than it would be somewhere else."