The American Public Transportation Association’s Rail Conference was held June 3-6 in Dallas, Texas. The session “Current Issues and Challenges in Rail Security” provided an interactive session with an opportunity to find out who’s experiencing similar challenges and what some of the practices are to address these common issues.
Electronic Device Theft ♦ Metro Transit Police Department
Metro Transit Police Deputy Chief Leslie Campbell talked about the challenge of personal electronic device theft. He mentioned that sales on the black market are a major cause to the interest in these types of theft.
Over the past year they have seen a 24 percent decrease in these thefts by utilizing a number of strategies. “Metrostat” was created by the Metro Transit Police to identify crime trends and target areas which allows them to deploy staff and resources more effectively. Using the Metrostat information, patrol commanders establish crime reduction objectives for their districts and can better address the needs.
The department also uses focused patrols, public awareness campaigns about “protecting your property,” high-intensity public enforcement and a crime suppression team. At the session, Deputy Chief Campbell showed a video of the crime suppression team in action.
The introduction of H.R. 4247: Cell Phone Theft Prevention Act of 2012 was to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit the mobile service providers from providing service on mobile electronic devices that have been reported stolen and to require such providers to give consumers the ability to remotely delete data from such devices. In March of this year, the bill was assigned to a congressional committee, which will consider it before possibly sending it to the House or Senate. Going along with the introduction of this bill was a big media event to raise the awareness.
Graffiti & Tagging and Metal Theft ♦ Los Angeles County Sheriff Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Holly Perez talked about graffiti and tagging as an issue they are facing. The Tracking Automated and Graffiti Reporting System (TAGRS) is used to store and track incidents. It is a free shared database in their area for law enforcement to help identify and prosecute graffiti suspects.
Perez said they have formed a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as many taggers are still in school. Another avenue that has been helpful is social media. Sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and other social sites are often where they find pictures of “work” done to identify people.
The other challenge Perez discussed was metal theft, and in particular, copper wire theft.
Another issue is the copper wire theft and metal theft, in general. They have been utilizing intelligence-led policing (ILP), a business model where data analysis and crime intelligence are used for objective, decision-making to create effective enforcement strategies targeting serious offenders. There are also detective case load issues they’re experiencing, Perez said.
Working with Mentally Ill ♦ Bay Area Rapid Transit District Transit Police
Chief of Transit Police Kenton Rainey talked about woking with the mentally ill by utilizing a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), or the “Memphis Model.” In 1988, the Memphis Police Department partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI), mental health providers and two local universities to organize, train and implement a specialized unit to develop a safer approach for mental crisis events.
A transit system creates a shelter from the environment so it is a “welcoming” place for homeless people and the self-medicated homeless, Chief Rainey explained. California Penal Code 647F, also known as a “drunk and disorderly,” makes it a misdemeanor for someone to be under the influence in a public place and unable to care for his or her own safety or obstructs others to the use of public ways.
BART transit police have implemented the use of body cameras, have a mental health outreach worker and they have worked NAMI. Chief Rainey suggested to attendees that they network with them, as well.
He said they have had a decrease in the use of force, have seen cost savings and their officers are better trained for verbal de-escalation. You can read more on Chief Kenton Rainey and the BART Transit Police here.