Increased DART Security Won’t Go On Indefinitely
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Under normal circumstances the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) police officer that was shot at the Arapaho Station in Richardson wouldn’t have been there. The officer was working as a part of DART’S ramped up security after a DART shooting in January. But officials say that increase in security will soon end.
Since DART is funded by a 1-cent sales tax, the sluggish economy has reduced revenue and forced budget cuts.
“And obviously to have such a strong presence, currently on all of our platforms and buses, with undercover officers etc. takes that money,” explained DART spokesman Mark Ball. “Now eventually we’re gonna have to put those officers back onto regular services.”
Ball said while budget cuts didn’t impact their security staff the ramped up security since the shootings on Tuesday can’t go on indefinitely.
“It just depends on the public perception at the moment and obviously the success that we’re having with the officers out at the stations,” he said. “There’s no determined timeframe for when this will stop, but we’re gonna keep it up at least for the next few days.”
Currently there are some 200 DART police officers, but their responsibilities are varied and the current situation has them splitting duties.
“Some of our officers who work other functions we have them assisting with these sweeps, first thing in the morning and later in the evening, before they go and do their normal workday here at DART,” Ball said.
Ball said DART officers are focusing more on preventing the escalation of violence on public transit.
“There’s a balance that the police department has to find, between fighting crime and also assisting the public with general things such as following the Code of Conduct,” he said. “Lately we’ve been doing [enforcing] the Code of Conduct which is posted on our buses and our trains, and at all of our stations.”
That Code of Conduct includes rules about eating, drinking and “milling about” on or around DART transportation.
This week’s shooting at the Richardson DART station left two people dead, including the gunman and an innocent bystander. Another passenger and DART police Officer Nikisha Manderson were injured in the shooting.
Ball stressed that it isn’t as if the agency wouldn’t like to continue the increased police presence, but they simply can’t afford it.
The next DART board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday. No word on if security funding will be on the agenda.