Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan accepts the Champion for Change Award. Photo credited to Gary Ottley.
In the same week the MBTA receives an award for its groundbreaking efforts to stop sexual harassment on buses and trains, the T is unveiling a new public awareness campaign designed to encourage even more reporting of such incidents and deter would-be predators.
At a ceremony this Wednesday, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) will honor the MBTA as its 2009 “Champion for Change.” The award is given annually to recognize individuals and organizations that have made exceptional contributions to the fight against sexual violence. Said BARCC: “The MBTA has earned the 2009 award for their first-in-the-nation outreach and public safety plan regarding inappropriate sexual behavior on public transportation, which has achieved truly outstanding results.”
In the 18 months since the first campaign was launched in April 2008, Transit Police made 28 arrests for Indecent Assault and Battery… a 40% increase over arrests made for the same offense in the 18 months before April 2008. Efforts to encourage more victims to report such incidents have also been successful. The 99 reports to Transit Police since April 2008 represent a 32% increase over the number of reports made in the 18 months leading up to the launch of the campaign.
“Working with Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan and everyone associated with the campaign at the MBTA has been a true pleasure,” said BARCC Executive Director Gina Scaramella. “This partnership is based on mutual respect and a desire to reach our common goal to reduce sexual harassment on public transportation. Our organizations have different roles and yet we have been able to come together to really make a difference for passengers.”
“The MBTA appreciates this recognition from BARCC but this has been a true partnership that has helped make the MBTA safer,” said Chief MacMillan. “As we continue our commitment to the Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign, we will work closely with BARCC to educate and empower our passengers to assist us in ensuring a safe transit environment.”
In the coming weeks, hundreds of new signs will be posted inside MBTA buses and subway cars in a concerted effort to re-energize the public awareness program, which drew national attention when it was first launched in April of 2008. The attention-getting new messages show subway passengers through the lens of a surveillance camera and warnings of plain clothes police officers traveling aboard trains and buses.
“We are very grateful to the staff at the crisis center for working closely with us, and recognizing our determined efforts to raise awareness of this important issue,” said MBTA Acting General Manager William Mitchell. “But I’m even more pleased that our partnership with BARCC is leading to more and more women feeling safe and comfortable while using public transportation.”