Metro-East News

New security leadership announced for MetroLink, MetroBus system

The agency that oversees MetroLink and MetroBus announced Friday it has hired three people to lead the its public safety team as the light-rail and bus system works to improve the perception of security on the region’s public transit system.

Stephen Berry, general manager of public safety; Kevin B. Scott, director of security; and Vernon L. Summers, manager of contract security, are scheduled to join Metro Transit on Sept. 9, and will be responsible for the ongoing development and implementation of the transit system’s comprehensive security program, the transit agency said in a news release.

“We are committed to providing our customers, our team members and the neighborhoods we serve with safe and secure transit service, and the experience and expertise of our new public safety leadership team will be a key component toward delivering on that commitment,” said Taulby Roach, president and chief executive officer of Bi-State Development, which oversees Metro.

“These individuals were selected specifically for their accomplished experiences and demonstrated success in areas including transit security, law enforcement and community policing,” Roach said in the news release.

Berry will be responsible for leading the creation and implementation of the transit system’s comprehensive security program, and all integrated security and policing activities, according to the transit agency’s news release.

Berry currently is the deputy director of Transit Safety and Workforce Development at the Center for Urban Transportation Research, where he is responsible for the statewide operations, safety, security and workforce development for transit systems across Florida. He was previously a deputy director at LYNX, the transit system in Orlando, Florida.

Scott will lead Metro’s public safety team and its collaboration with regional law enforcement partners and contracted security personnel. Scott has served as the chief of police in Ballwin, Missouri, since 2016, and has been with the Ballwin Police Department for 27 years.

Summers will oversee the contract security team. He previously was a lieutenant with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, chief of police in Bella Villa, Missouri, and was most recently director of public safety at the St. Louis Galleria shopping center.

Metro is currently working on awarding a contract for security services, according to the news release.

In January, Bi-State removed Richard Zott, Metro’s public safety chief at the time, and his top assistant Jason Davis, from overseeing security on the public transit system.

The role of security manager and assistant security manager was being redesigned in conjunction with the security assessment report that came back earlier this year, Roach said at the time.

Among the recommendations laid out in the study by New York-based firm WSP USA Inc. are removing conflict between the different agencies from the public realm as well as de-politicizing the conversation of Metro security.

The study found that crime rates on MetroLink aren’t the major problem. If customer experience and service improved, the public’s perception of the light-rail system would improve, too.

The perception of how good safety and security is on the MetroLink became a point of contention after some high-profile incidents such as a rider was shot and killed at the University of Missouri-St. Louis South stop; a man was arrested after assaulting a security officer at the Fairview Heights station; a homeless man was shot and killed on the Busch Stadium MetroLink platform, among others took place over the course of a year.

In a 2018 investigation, the Belleville News-Democrat found there was less than one violent crime — such as homicide or robbery — on MetroLink for every 100,000 boardings in 2016, and 1.4 violent crimes per 100,000 boardings in 2017.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.