The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) today announced the application of three major safety technologies and patrol innovations to augment ongoing efforts at passenger and employee security.
Metro is in the process of deploying elevated security towers called SkyWatch that will provide an “eye in the sky” at parking lots on the Metro Rail system. Paid for with a California Transit Security Grant of $479,215, the towable SkyWatch towers will provide real-time video surveillance at four key stations and can be moved as needs arise.
Metro has also begun installing security kiosks at nine locations to help Sheriff’s deputies and other security personnel access enforcement tools, such as closed circuit television (CCTV) displays, landline telephones, two-way radios and computer workstations. The kiosks were provided through a $5.1 million California Transit Security Grant.
Metro and LASD are also expanding implementation of the LexRay mobile application technology that was initially adopted in 2013. LexRay brings key information from video and data directly to the user’s smartphone or tablet.
“With LexRay, the user doesn’t have to be present in a command center to access real-time information such as video from stations and rail platforms,” said Metro Executive Officer of Systems Safety and Law Enforcement Alex Wiggins. “LexRay works with Wi-Fi, cellular and satellite communications and can link with other law enforcement agencies making it interoperable in emergencies.” Next steps will be improvements to LexRay to will allow a user to see a live feed from inside a bus or train car that is in need of assistance.
The installation of ever-expanding technologies is working seamlessly with “intelligence led policing” and other law enforcement strategies to ensure Metro remains a safe system, recording only four serious crimes per one million boardings.
For the past seven months, Metro has been embarked on a safety enhancement program called The Three Es: Engineering, Education and Enforcement. The first step was installation of CCTV monitors on a test fleet of buses to display a live feed of the bus’s interior from its mounted cameras. Almost immediately, assaults and other crimes ceased on lines where the monitors were in service. Also, Metro installed bus operator safety barriers made of polycarbonate and steel on new buses arriving from the manufacturer. The barriers have shown so much promise protecting bus operators from assault that Metro modified its order for all 350 new buses to include protective barriers.
“The monitors and barriers are improving safety and security in their initial usage and we are fully committed to expanding them on all our new buses,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “The message is that we are watching and those who commit crimes on the Metro system will be caught and prosecuted.”
Metro’s award-winning smartphone application has undergone improvements to make it more effective and easier to use. The app, “LA Metro Transit Watch,” is available for free download from the App Store and Google Play and allows the user to contact the LASD Transit Policing Division dispatch center by telephone or file and electronic report complete with a photograph of the suspect.
In September, Metro began pilot testing an innovative customer service program called Transit Ambassador to give bus operators necessary tools to improve job performance, handle stress in their lives and defuse potentially dangerous situations in the field. Training and measuring of results will take a year.