According to Metro Transit's latest release, operators of the agency's system and its law enforcement and contracted security partners reported progress in the first half of 2022 in their efforts to establish a safer transit environment for riders in the St. Louis region.
The recent release of the MetroLink Task Force Incident Report for Quarter 2 (April – June 2022) underscores how an improved security presence across the system creates more proactive approach to policing, according to Metro Transit. The approach is resulting in an increased number of incidents being addressed and demonstrates that crime will not be tolerated on the MetroLink system.
According to the survey, MetroLink boardings increased 26% from Quarter 2 of 2021 to Quarter 2 of 2022 as people returned to work, school, and recreational activities that were cancelled or held virtually previously because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 177 incidents were reported, up from 160 in Quarter 1. Incidents per MetroLink boardings during Quarter 2 were 10 per 100,000 boardings (.0001). The majority (71%) of the incident reports in Quarter 2 2022 were self-initiated and generated by proactive policing. That is up from 66% for all of 2021, according to Metro Transit.
A large number of the incidents were for standard of conduct (62%); followed by violent crime (34%), and property crime (4%). Weapon violations accounted for 44% of the violent offense types and were likely the result of proactive crime-fighting initiatives targeting known “hot-spots," accoridng to the release.
“The effectiveness of the security measures and collaboration we have put into place over the last two-plus years is evident throughout our latest incident report. Incidents are up, but that is 100 percent attributable to the proactive work of our law enforcement partners,” said Kevin Scott, GM of security at Bi-State Development.
Bi-State Development operates the Metro Transit public transportation system for the St. Louis region.
Over the last two years, Metro Transit said it has worked with its law enforcement partners to increase the number of secondary officers available to assist full-time police officers and deputies as well as Metro Transit Security Specialists and contracted Allied Universal (formerly G4S) security officers assigned to MetroLink. Metro Transit has secondary agreements with the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department, the City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Office, and the Normandy Police Department, according to the agency.
“The foundation for continued progress is the collaboration between Metro Transit and its dedicated partners in our shared quest to rebuild ridership and regain the region’s confidence in this essential regional asset,” said Taulby Roach, Bi-State Development president/CEO. “We will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners and contracted security teams, and tweak the different measures we have in place to help ensure that the positive trends continue.”
Security will be further bolstered after gated entrances are added to all 38 MetroLink stations on the light rail system as part of a $52 million Secure Platform Plan, according to Metro Transit. More than $10 million in private funding has been committed to the project, which also has the support of the St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern. All three local government entities help fund Metro Transit operations. HNTB was selected to design the new access gates. Once construction gets underway next fall, it is expected to take 24 to 30 months to complete the project.