- Eating en route to or while riding the subway here is a no-no. Stephanie Willett, a government employee, found that out the hard way recently. Finishing a candy bar on her way into a Metro station, she was arrested, handcuffed and detained for three hours.
Willett said she was eating a PayDay bar on an escalator descending into a station July 16 when a transit policeman warned her to finish it before entering the station. Both Willett and police agree that she nodded and put the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into a trash can.
….The transit police officer asked for Willett’s identification, but Willett kept walking. She said she was then frisked and handcuffed.
“If she had stopped eating, it would have been the end of it and if she had just stopped for the issuance of a citation, she never would have been locked up,” Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson said Thursday.
Metrorail has been criticized in the past for heavy-handed enforcement of the eating ban. In 2000, a police officer handcuffed a 12-year-old girl for eating a french fry on a subway platform.
In 2002, one of their officers ticketed a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy patient for cursing when he was unable to find a working elevator to leave a station. Unflattering publicity eventually led the police to void the ticket. [AP]
Keeping the subway clean and safe is a difficult and worthwhile challenge – maybe zero tolerance could be upped to 1%.