When a passenger was assaulted on a light rail vehicle this spring, it didn’t take long for supervisors in Metro Transit’s Rail Control Center to hear about it – or see it.
Alerted by the train operator, rail supervisors pulled up live video and located the suspects, who’d exited and then re-entered another train. Their location was relayed to police, who met the train and took the suspects into custody.
Without access to cameras, such a quick and effective response might not have been possible.
“As officers are driving to a call, we can start playing back the scene,” said Metro Transit Sgt. Mike Leubner, one of several personnel who monitors cameras from afar. “When officers arrive, their information-gathering time is reduced, a suspect is already identified and can be apprehended on the spot.”
Leubner works out of Metro Transit’s Real Time Information Center as part of a team of sworn officers and non-sworn personnel who monitor cameras for most of the day and evening and help submit video needed for evidence.
Supervisors in the Rail Control Center, which is always staffed, can also access the cameras.
Efforts to install new cameras with instant replay capabilities, 360-degree views, audio and high-definition footage began in 2020. The cameras are now in use on all of Metro Transit’s light rail vehicles.
In addition to light rail vehicles, police and supervisors can view live video from each of Metro Transit’s 44 light rail and commuter rail platforms.
The light rail vehicle cameras are especially helpful when officers are responding to emergencies and need the best and latest information they can get. But they have other uses as well.
Supervisors in the Rail Control Center, where all light rail movements are monitored, use the cameras to verify concerns reported by customers and to look out for operators. Customers are asked to report non-emergency concerns using a service that connects them with staff via text message.
“These cameras have become vital to many aspects of our operation,” said Mark Benedict, director of light rail. “They’re not just a law enforcement tool but a way to improve the experience for all our customers and staff.”
Safety & Security Action Plan
The Safety & Security Action Plan summarizes the steps Metro Transit is taking to making transit feel safer and more welcoming. The plan was established in June 2022 following significant customer and employee outreach and will be regularly updated.
View the Safety & Security Action Plan