MTS Security now includes contractors in patrols

Jan. 26, 2022
The 190 Inter-Con officers will be joining patrols of MTS’ vehicles and property by the end of January 2022.

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has started integrating security officers from Inter-Con into its security teams as of Jan. 1, 2022, and expects to have 190 contracted security officers patrolling its vehicles and transit centers by the end of the month.

MTS Security will consist of Inter-Con’s 190 officers and MTS’ 80 Code Compliance Inspectors, who have been tasked with enhancing the safety and security of MTS’ 570-square-mile service area that includes 62 stations and 53 miles of double-track railway. The joint force will be responsible for conducting fare inspections, acting as system ambassadors, supporting bus and rail operations and other employees in need, helping with lost and found, responding to the agency’s Ride Assured 24/7 text and phone hotlines and other duties.

“The safety of our riders and employees is a top priority at MTS. We are confident Inter-Con officers will be a great addition to our security teams,” said Monica Montgomery Steppe, chair of the MTS Public Security Committee and San Diego City Council president pro tem. “We are excited to have these officers on board to advance many of the reforms we’ve implemented over the past few years and look forward to working with them to serve the public.”

The MTS Board of Directors approved a five-year, $66-million contract with Inter-Con Security in July 2021 to provide security services on MTS vehicles and properties. The contract includes three base years with an option to extend for an additional two years.

MTS’ search for a security firm was national in scope and, at the time the contract was awarded, agency leaders noted they were impressed with the firm’s work plan, which included use of technology to track training and certifications.

“We want to provide a safe and secure experience for all MTS riders and employees,” said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board chair, and chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “This new team can help us ensure we meet our obligation to protect the public, our MTS team members and anyone who engages with MTS in a safe and professional manner.”

In 2021, MTS took on a series of initiatives to bolster its security teams to increase community trust. In addition to hiring a security contractor, the agency redesigned its security uniforms , extended its fare evasion diversion program until August 2022 and hired Al Stiehler as its new director of transit security and passenger safety.

Additionally, the agency established a Security and Passenger Safety Community Advisory Group and revised its use of force policies including:

  • Adopting many of the principles in the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign and as a guideline for its use-of-force policy;
  • Banning carotid restraints and choke holds, including the prohibition of using knee pressure on the neck, throat or head; and
  • Adopting a “duty to intervene” if MTS security officers witness excessive force by another employee.

“We have been working diligently to adopt principles, guidelines and improve our officers’ training to a more sensible approach to security and safety enforcement,” said Al Stiehler, MTS director of Transit Security and Passenger Safety.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.