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July 2013

Focus on Day-to-Day Transit Security Helps Mitigate Larger Threats

Photo courtesy L.A. Metro

Photo courtesy L.A. Metro
Over the past two decades, terrorist attacks across the globe have shaped the focus of security. In response, transit system police forces shifted their strategies to a strong focus on terrorism and countering the potential for terrorism, says Greg Hull, APTA’s assistant VP, public safety, operations and technical services.

In the initial years, he says, there was a tremendous outlay of energy and resources devoted to countering terrorism. Today, Hull says there has been a “renewed approach to security and looking at it from the continuum of security that takes on the day-to-day issues to the extremes of countering terrorism.” Hull explains this by citing the “broken windows” concept.

“If you don’t pay attention to broken windows or graffiti, it causes in the minds of all concerned, a belief that no one is watching, nobody is paying attention” he says. “Where we are now in our industry across the country, is that a very strong focus on what we do day-to-day [from a security standpoint] is very important and very critical.”

Technology
According to Hull, there has been a significant move into technology with regard to security.

“Particularly, following the London bombings, where, as we all know, the forensics tool that became available through the surveillance equipment was key in being able to identify the individuals that attacked the London Underground,” he says. “That caused a lot of us internationally, and certainly in the U.S., to put more of a focus on the use of surveillance equipment in our systems.”

Most recently, it was surveillance images that helped identify and lead to the capture of the Boston bombing suspects.

The origin of the use of surveillance equipment was the return on investment (ROI) with respect to, and insurance claims resulting from, accidents. Fast forward, the industry has not just seen ROI for claims mitigation, but also for security purposes.

Like many transit systems, deploying a robust camera system across its infrastructure is something New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) has done to bolster its security capabilities.

“Because we have limited human assets, we look at what we can do to multiply our capabilities,” NJ Transit Police Chief Chris Trucillo says.


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