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Posts in Category: Transit Police

Safety Transit Police

New transit police officers speak many languages, share desire to be role models 

Posted by Laura Baenen | Friday, December 21, 2018 11:15:00 AM

Growing up in Cambodia, Soonem Teng’s family fled their home several times to escape raids by the Khmer Rouge.

That experience helped point Teng toward a career in law enforcement. On Thursday, he was among 16 new officers sworn in by the Metro Transit Police Department. 

“As a kid, I always wanted someone to step up and help,” Teng said. “Now I want to be that person for others.”

Teng’s experience was not uncommon among his peers. Several of the department’s new officers grew up during warfare in faraway lands, became refugees and were befriended at some point by police officers.

In addition to Teng, who speaks Cambodian, the new group includes officers who speak Burmese, Chinese, Somali, Spanish, American Sign Language and Igbo, a West African language.

Ahmed Dualeh was born in Somalia while the country was in the throes of a civil war, an experience that led him to see police as peace keepers. Dualeh’s outlook has also been formed by his time at a Ramsey County Corrections Officer.

As a police officer, he hopes to be a positive force before troubles mount. “I can talk to younger people and help them by being a role model,” he said.

The prospect of becoming a role model also appeals to Peter Wameng Yang, who is fluent in Hmong. “Becoming a role model to the Hmong population and teaching the community about the Hmong culture is a goal I set many years ago,” he said. “I am getting a step closer.”

The new group of officers also includes former security guards, volunteer police reservists, military veterans and Community Service Officers.

The department gained its first sibling duo, too. Kevin McCabe’s older brother, Pat McCabe, has been with the department since 2014.

With the additional officers, the Metro Transit Police Department now has 101 full-time officers and 59 part-time officers. The new group was brought in partly to support the C Line, a Bus Rapid Transit service replacing Route 19 in 2019.

Before Thursday’s swearing in ceremony, the recruits completed the department’s custom, 10-week academy and spent another four months working alongside field training officers.

Metro Transit police officers can respond to calls from throughout the seven-county region but primarily focus on patrolling the transit network.

 

Metro Transit Police Department Swearing in Ceremony

Transit Police

Rest in Peace, Rusty 

Posted by John Komarek | Wednesday, September 26, 2018 12:00:00 PM


Rusty with his partner of six years, Officer Scharber.  

Working in the K-9 Unit at Metro Transit Police Department has its benefits.

“It’s just the bond you create – you can’t find that with a regular officer,” K-9 Officer Joshua Scharber said.

But, after years of working together and building strong bonds, this service can also be bittersweet.

Right before Christmas in 2012, a chocolate lab named Rusty met his partner, Officer Scharber, for the very first time. "I became immediately attached." Scharber said. "We're both gentle giants, so we understood each other."

On Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, Scharber received the sad news that he would need to say goodbye to his longtime partner and friend.

Rusty was diagnosed with an advanced disease that was attacking his kidneys. The prognosis was that any procedure would simply delay the inevitable.

Rusty's work included explosive detection, but where he shined the most was working with kids.

“We'd take him to schools, and ten different sets of hands would surround him," Scharber said. "He didn't flinch. In fact, you could tell he loved the attention."

Rusty's ashes will stay with Officer Scharber, sitting in an urn on his mantle.

"He was a good dog." Scharber said. "He was a handler's dream."


Thank you to K-9 Rusty for your service to Metro Transit

Awards Light Rail Safety Transit Police

Super Bowl Security efforts gain national acclaim 

| Tuesday, June 12, 2018 2:20:00 PM

U.S. Bank Stadium Station, shortly before Super Bowl LII.Efforts to safely transport thousands of Super Bowl fans were recognized last week by the American Public Transportation Association.

APTA presented Metro Transit with a Gold Award for Rail Security on Sunday during an awards ceremony in Denver, Colo. The awards were part of APTA’s International Rail Rodeo activities.

The award reflects the extraordinary efforts Metro Transit put forward on gameday and during more than a week of pre-game festivities.

To maintain a secure perimeter while still allowing fans to take light rail to U.S. Bank Stadium, ticket holders who took light rail on gameday were pre-screened at light rail stations – a first for the event.

Metro Transit also played a key role in event preparations, hosting table top drills and exercises and coordinating with more than 75 law enforcement agencies.  

The preparations helped Metro Transit overcome multiple last-minute challenges, including snow, system and light rail vehicle failures and a civil disruption on the Green Line.

More than 210,000 additional rides were taken over more than a week's worth of Super Bowl events, leading the Green and Blue lines and the Northstar Commuter Rail Line to their highest-ever January ridership totals.

The award comes just weeks after APTA presented Metro Transit with a Certificate of Merit at its Bus Safety & Security Awards. The award recognized efforts to improve safety through repeated and enhanced operator training.

Minneapolis Transit Police

Sincerity, soft touch earns officer top cop honors 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, March 28, 2018 1:37:00 PM

Growing up, Tim Lawrence often used his stature to stand up to bullies. He went to school to become a teacher. And one of the first jobs he took was as a skycap, traveling and interacting with people from around the world.

The experiences didn’t seem to point toward a career in law enforcement. But at 28 years old, he realized they could all be of use as a police officer in a large and diverse area like the Twin Cities.

So the Hastings native decided to turn his attention toward becoming a cop and went back to school. After acing his first class, he was convinced he was onto something.

Nearly a decade later, Lawrence stood before his family and his peers and was recognized as Metro Transit’s officer of the year. The award is presented annually to an officer who exemplifies the department’s principles.

Days after that celebration, Lawrence stood in a small substation at the Chicago-Lake Transit Station and reflected on what the award meant.

“I’m not doing this to get recognized,” he said. “I do police work. That’s my job. I’m honored to get it, but it’s just another day.”

Lawrence’s humility isn’t surprising. Fellow officers describe him as a soft-spoken, matter-of-fact individual known for quiet displays of empathy and a steady, calm demeanor.

When an infant was kidnapped last summer, it was Lawrence who stayed with and consoled the distraught mother. A chance encounter on a frigid Christmas night sparked a years-long relationship with a homeless individual who often sought refuge on light rail trains. And while assigned to Lake Street, he persistently visited with business owners, using his limited Spanish to build trust in the community.

“He genuinely likes to help people, and you don’t see that very often anymore,” said Sgt. Jeremy Rausch, who nominated Lawrence. “Even with all the challenges we have, he hasn’t lost his soft touch. He cares about people who are less fortunate and that shows every day that he comes work.”

Lawrence is now in his sixth year as a patrol officer with Transit Police. He’s spent countless hours riding the Blue Line, worked overnights and helped train three new hires as a Field Training Officer.

He’s currently among a team of officers who patrol the west metro from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. His time is spent largely in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, monitoring busy boarding locations, responding to calls for service and riding buses.

While it’s a broad territory, Lawrence said he takes serving the community personally. “Even though this is a huge jurisdiction, this is my area and I take full responsibility for that,” he said.

That’s especially true in North Minneapolis, where Lawrence is perhaps better known as a coach than as a police officer.

That part of Lawrence’s story started three years ago, when he was riding the bus and ran into a former classmate he played football with at Bethel University. The teammate was now coaching at North Community High School and said it would be great to work together.

That interaction led to a call from Charlie Adams, the head football coach at Minneapolis North Community High School. Lawrence was offered and immediately accepted a job as a line coach.

He’s since been embraced by student athletes and parents, some of whom he sees while on the job.

“It’s been a great opportunity for these kids and their parents to see me out of the uniform and begin to see cops as human beings,” Lawrence said. “It also gives me a chance to see where they’re coming from and what I need to do to earn their respect.”

Lawrence hopes to build similarly warm relationships with all those he encounters. But he’s more interested in the personal satisfaction that comes from these positive interactions than the kind of acclaim he received last week.

“You get a chance to do one good thing and it rejuvenates you and makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “I’m not doing these things for recognition. I’m just doing what any human being should do.”

 > Learn more about the Metro Transit Police Department's annual awards 

Metro Transit Police Department Awards Ceremony March 2018

Ridership Safety Transit Police

Transit Police make arrests in recent wave of cell phone thefts 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Wednesday, November 29, 2017 11:30:00 AM

Metro Transit police officers have arrested 11 suspects for committing a bold crime of stealing cell phones from riders’ hands. Four of the suspects have been charged with felony theft and are facing thousands of dollars in fines and up to five years in prison. More arrests are expected as the investigation continues.

Over the past month, cell phone theft has increased significantly, with more than 30 victims reporting the robberies to transit police. This is the most significant rash of thefts since a federal investigation into cell phone robberies led to several arrests a few years ago.

Transit Control Center Supervisors on police dispatch gathered key information about the suspects from distraught victims and pulled video of the crime. In many cases, within minutes of receiving the victim's call, police dispatch forwarded the suspects' identifying information to transit officers, who in turn spotted the suspects - out of thousands of people - while conducting fare checks.

Officers were able to return several of the phones to their owners. Some victims received their stolen phones within a few hours of being robbed. "The recovery of victims' phones, containing valuable personal information, especially one belonging to a blind victim, is priceless," said Capt. Michael LaVine.

Riders are reminded this holiday season to be aware of their surroundings and take care with their phones. Electronics are a target for thieves, especially near vehicle doors, and should be tucked away while riding. Calls should be brief and quiet.

Riders should call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Or, if anyone has a tip about a crime on transit, they are encouraged to call Transit Police at 612.349.7222.

Find more smart riding tips on our Security on Transit page.

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