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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.

Rider Information Safety

Safety tips for pub-crawling zombies 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Friday, October 13, 2017 12:20:00 PM

Here's how to have fun and stay undead with Metro Transit during the Zombie Pub Crawl in downtown Minneapolis this Saturday, October 14.

You can join the apocalyptic mob by taking one of Metro Transit's many bus and rail options. And, once you're downtown where the beer and brains are flowing, please remember these tips:

  • > When refreshing fake blood throughout the evening, please keep it on your own flesh and off the streets, buses, rail cars and platforms. Cleaning it up after you’re gone really bites.
     
  • > A couple more notes about the bloody business of being a zombie: If we see zombie blood on a transit vehicle, we may have to suspend service, and therefore delay the undead from the festivities. Nobody wants that. And, here's a thought: Why not buy an All-Day Pass via Metro Transit's zombie-friendly app? This will keep your bloody hands off the ticket machines.
     
  • > As the zombie in you shuffles and moans through the streets of downtown, make sure to stay clear of the light rail tracks and only use pedestrian crossings.
     
  • > No brain stealing at bus stops and rail platforms. Zombie horseplay at bus stops and on the platform is dangerous - especially near moving trains.

Have fun and stay undead!

Light Rail Safety

Light rail safety efforts receive national recognition 

| Monday, June 12, 2017 11:05:00 AM

Train operators Peter Mooers, left, and Bill Morris, right, took fourth place in the American Public Transit Association’s International Rail Rodeo held earlier this month in Baltimore, Md. Efforts to enhance safety at pedestrian crossings along Metro Transit’s light rail corridors have been recognized by the American Public Transit Association (APTA). 

APTA presented Metro Transit with a Gold Award for Safety for actions taken following a series of collisions that began in late-2015. Those efforts included a public safety campaign focused on grade crossing awareness, improved warning devices and the installation of alternate flashing headlights on light rail vehicles. The award was presented on Monday, June 12, at APTA’s 2017 Rail Conference in Baltimore, Md. 

This is the third Gold Award for Safety that Metro Transit has received since 2009. APTA presents one Gold Award annually, judging entries on effectiveness, innovation and project transferability. 

The number of light rail collisions per 100,000 vehicle miles has steadily declined since the Green Line opened in 2014. Through the end of April, there have been 0.51 collisions per 100,000 vehicle miles, down slightly from the same time last year. 

Two Metro Transit train operators also competed in APTA's International Rail Rodeo. Operators Peter Mooers, left, and Bill Morris, right, took fourth place in the skills competition, which tested operators' safety and customer service skills.

    > Awards and Recognition

    > Safety on METRO lines

Safety Transit Police

Transit police welcome new K-9s 

| Wednesday, December 07, 2016 11:01:00 AM

Metro Transit police officers with their K-9 partners in Minneapolis.Officer Matt Wilkinson has always been a dog person.

So when the opportunity arose to become one of the Metro Transit Police Department’s new K-9 handlers, he took it. And since late-October he’s been side-by-side with Carlo, one of three Belgian Malinois the department recently acquired to expand its K-9 Unit.

“I’ve got a couple of dogs at home already but having him is a lot different because he’s super high-energy and has such a super high drive to work,” Wilkinson said during a recent break from training at the Hiawatha Operations & Maintenance Facility. “It’s almost a 24-hour kind of deal working with him.”

But Wilkinson and the other new K-9 officers – Jason Michaud and Erica Fossand – all agree working with their new companions has quickly proven to be one of the most rewarding moves of their careers.

And if anything, they say, it’s the dogs who are training them.

“Handling is completely more work than I ever imagined because I don’t want to get in his way, and there are a lot of things I can do to disrupt him from doing his job,” said Fossand, her K-9 Nico sitting calmly beside her.

Imported from Holland with help from the St. Paul Police Department, the K-9’s were trained to detect and point out explosive materials before being brought to Minnesota. The officers are going through an eight-week training course and will begin their patrols in early 2017.

As part of their training, the officers and K-9s spent a recent morning at the OMF looking for odors that had been planted around a train. The dogs are taught to alert the handler when they discover one of around 21 differently potentially explosive odors.

In practice, Metro Transit’s K-9s spend most of their time at rail stations and large events proactively patrolling. The K9 unit can also be called out for suspicious packages or to assist other agencies.

As the officers are quickly learning, the K-9s are eager to work, too.

“It’s not 6-4, it’s all the time,” said Michaud, whose K-9 companion, Jack, is the smallest and most energetic of the new group. “You can just see how much energy he has.”

With the latest additions, Metro Transit’s K-9 Unit has expanded to seven officers. Other members include Scott Tinucci and his K-9 Merle; Larry Wright and his K-9 Rocky; and Josh Scharber and his K-9 Rusty. The department’s older K-9s are all labs.  

The department is supervised by Sgt. Jeremy Rausch.

Carlo, Nico and Jack are expected to work for at least a decade, so the new officers have all made a long-term commitment to their new companion. But as close as they’ll likely become, there will be some obvious differences from previous partners.

“My human partners don’t sit in the back and bark at every car that goes by,” Michaud said. “So that’s different.”

    > Transit Police welcome 13 new officers

    > Police put youth on a new path through diversion program

Safety Transit Police

Transit Police welcome 13 new officers 

| Monday, November 14, 2016 11:22:00 AM

Thirteen new full-time officers joined the Metro Transit Police Department at a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 10.

The recruits come from a variety of backgrounds, with a combined 50-plus years of law enforcement experience with the DEA, Airport Police and several other area departments. One of the new officers worked most recently as a Metro Transit bus operator.

The group also continues to build the department’s diversity, including the first Tibetan and Egyptian officers to work for Metro Transit. There are nine different languages spoken among the new officers.

“Your recruit class is a great example of the diversity of our community,” Chief John Harrington said as he addressed the group in front of family and friends at the Union Depot.

Harrington also commended the group for enduring the department's expanded, 10-week academy, including courses on fair and impartial policing, crisis intervention and poverty. 

With the new class, the department now has more than 113 full-time officers and a pool of 71 part-time officers. The new officers will be based out of both the West and East commands. 

Metro Transit police officers sworn in last week include Chad Worden, Joe Herr, Tim Wilkerson, James Reyerson, Xiong Lor, Peter Eshenaur, Amanda St. George, Ahmad Kahin, Mike Olson, Jonathan Beecham, Tenzin Dongag, Amro Abdalla and Erin Abbott. 

Metro Transit Police Department graduation fall 2016

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