If security on the MetroLink seems piecemeal, then it is no surprise that data about public safety on the transit system is also piecemeal. However, as of Friday, there is some data that offers at least an abstract picture in the shadow of a recent homicide and a serious shooting on the light rail line.
Metro’s website now includes the first week of a blotter of what their public safety officers have done. From April 1 to April 7, Metro personnel made 449 train patrols and handled 156 events, which, because they have no arrest powers, may have ended with them calling the cops.
Incidents included 35 disturbances, 12 fare violations, an indecent exposure, gambling, drugs, a weapon, four drunks, 15 trespassers and 10 passenger removals. Twice there were suspicious packages left unattended.
The events were clustered around their stations, with Forest Park logging 21 incidents and Union Station 17. The third busiest was Fairview Heights at nine events. Metro spokeswoman Patti Beck said they took note of that information and are concentrating on trouble spots.
Events were pretty evenly distributed throughout the day — late night was pretty even with the commuter times, except that late night events happened with light ridership so the rate per passenger was higher.
Additionally, about a dozen St. Clair County Sheriff’s deputies patrol Illinois stations. They released totals rather than individual crime reports. Deputies received 375 calls for service and made 24 arrests this March compared to 358 calls and 19 arrests during March 2016.
Some picture is better than nothing after years of Metro saying they did not track so could not share MetroLink crime data. It helps people decide when and where to be careful.
The shootings prompted St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and incoming St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson last week to promise more security and better coordination. Kern said more money and officers would be devoted to security on the transit system.
You can’t argue with more security, but the money to pay for those deputies is available because the St. Clair County Transit District has dedicated funds coming in from a quarter-cent sales tax. Kern can boost that spending because it is separate and isn’t coming out of the starvation diet forced on the sheriff’s department.
Deputies on the MetroLink, but no law east of Silver Creek.