This winter, Sound Transit is launching a “Report it to Stop it” campaign to call out sexual misconduct on public transportation and encourage passengers to report these types of crimes to law enforcement.
Sex offenses do occur on our transit system, says King County Sheriff’s Detective Cassie Bertaina: “sadly, it is more common than one may think.”
However, many go unreported – or are sent to the Sound Transit security team via text or email instead of directly the police.
In response, the King County Sheriff’s Office Sound Transit Division has created an online reporting system for incidents that are not in progress or just happened.
Reports can be made by texting or calling 911 or using an online tool.
If you are a victim or a witness to a sex offense that is happening now or just happened, do not hesitate to call or text 911.
Crimes include harassment, voyeurism, indecent exposure, groping, stalking, and assault with sexual motivation.
The more people report these crimes, the more we can do to stop them from happening.
Sound Transit and the King County Sheriff’s Office care about the safety of our passengers and removing perpetrators from the transit system.
But we need your help to stop crimes from going unreported.
“Out of the 18 cases I’ve had this year, 15 were not reported directly to the police,” Bertaina said.
There are many reasons for this, Bertaina said:
Victims often feel shame, guilt, fear, and embarrassment,
They may be in shock,
They feel like they won’t be believed,
They may fear retaliation,
And they may not trust the legal system.
“Many victims tend to downplay the severity of the incident, even though it was significant, especially to them,” she said. “I’ve heard countless times, ‘I was in shock,’ ‘I didn’t know what to do,’ along with how they didn’t call 911, because it’s not what would be considered an emergency, and feel as though it may not be taken seriously or that the police have much more important things to deal with. However, they are ALL important and will be taken seriously.”
Sex offenses are crimes that can be, and are, successfully prosecuted.
Victims of sex offenses are mostly women, but there are victims in every demographic, including but not limited to men, transgender and non-binary people.
Regardless of gender, race and age, passengers can be targets of unwanted touching and comments, harassment, and other lewd behaviors.
King County Metro ran a similar public awareness and safety campaign in 2018 that led to sexual misconduct report numbers tripling.
That might not seem like a good statistic, but it proves the success of the campaign; it did not increase the number of incidents that occurred, but it did increase the number of those who reported them. That is Sound Transit's goal with our campaign as well.
Police rely on reports from the public so they can identify and investigate suspects, which is essential for seeking justice for victims and stopping repeat offenders.
So, keep an eye out for our ‘Report it to stop it’ campaign, and for your fellow passengers. Together, we can all ride safely.
Resources for victims
24-Hour Sexual Assault Resource Line
Main Office Phone Number
(Office Hours: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)