By Kevin Scott
September marks the one-year anniversary since Steve Berry, Vernon Summers and I arrived at Bi-State Development to tackle security issues on the Metro Transit system. Over the past 12 months, in our role as the new Public Safety Leadership Team, we have entirely transformed Metro Public Safety into a Comprehensive Safety and Security Program. Fundamental to this effort has been our unwavering commitment to work closely with our partners to rebuild regional collaboration, enhance overall security measures on the transit system, and regain the confidence of our riders.
From the outset, we began working with the WSP Team and our law enforcement partners to complete our own internal assessment of Metro Public Safety and devise a better solution. We focused in on an industry-best practice, layered security approach, building a zoned deployment along the MetroLink alignment with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each component and comprehensive training. These layers include contracted security, Metro Transit Public Safety, three primary law enforcement agencies and a secondary off-duty policing program.
G4S Solutions became the first and most visible layer in this new approach when it was selected as the new contract security provider effective April 1. G4S personnel actively patrol the transit system, and are resourced and trained to focus on key components of our security strategy: visibility, rider engagement and de-escalation. With decades of security expertise, the new G4S in-house leadership team has been phenomenal, providing a professional approach and holding its team accountable every day.
Our Metro Transit Security Specialists, represent our organization as the second layer of zoned security deployment. Their role is to focus on supporting contract security, coordinating with law enforcement and prioritizing customer engagement, as well as enhancing the positive rider experience. All uniformed and field-deployed Metro Transit Security Specialists are equipped with Body Worn Cameras, a great addition to help ensure transparency and accountability.
Our law enforcement partnerships comprise the third layer of our security platform, providing the policing element within the structure and an armed, professional law enforcement presence that provides an additional level of comfort to our patrons. Additionally, we have entered into Memorandums of Understanding with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Office and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for additional secondary law enforcement visibility and uniformed patrols at key locations. We continue to grow that secondary officer pool and are hopeful to achieve this same type of agreement with the St. Louis County Police Department for added secondary patrols on our buses within St. Louis County.
A new Ride and Abide Policy is one of our most recent security enhancing measures — giving us the ability to directly address the small number of individuals who don’t comply with our Code of Conduct. It will go a long way toward eliminating unacceptable behavior. Another newly established initiative includes a tour and modified ride-along program to highlight the efforts of our talented staff and partners who are dedicated to this regional asset. Several key stakeholders have already participated in this initiative including members of our Board of Commissioners.
We’re proud of the incredible progress of our team over the last year, and we remain committed to strengthening the partnerships and strategies that enable us to deliver the safe, secure, comfortable experience that will continue to rebuild the region’s confidence in our transit system.
General Manager Field Security, Metro Transit