DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After several deadly incidents on Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) rail trains and buses, and concerns about safety, DART has officially moved to increase security presence on all DART trains.
The changes were announced by DART President Gary Thomas during a public safety meeting at DART headquarters.
Tuesday DART held a series of administrative meetings covering everything from audits, planning and economic opportunities, to development, budget and security/safety.
At the conclusion of those meetings DART announced that, by using a combination of police, fare enforcement officers and armed security guards, it will now have stepped up security on all of their trains.
According to officials, DART operates up to 42 trains, consisting of sets of two or three rail cars, at peak service times.
The move requires the resources of some 140 people and was accomplished by shifting DART staff schedules, approving overtime and bringing in outside security guards. The use of outside security isn’t unusual since DART says they’ve use armed security guards, at various times, for several years.
DART is making the move to “increase the visibility of police and other uniformed security staff following some recent incidents.”
On February 7, an armed gunman opened fire on a DART police officer. The incident left one bystander, another shot and the gunman dead.
In January, an argument on a Blue Line train ended with a fatal shooting at the downtown Pearl Station. Dominique Wilson, 20, died from his injuries at Baylor Medical Center.
On November 2, 2011, a man shot another man in the thigh and sprinted out the back door of a DART bus in Oak Cliff. The victim recovered.
Three weeks later, 19-year-old Octavius Lanier was shoved into a moving DART train at the MLK Station, near Fair Park, by a group of teenage boys who were attempting to steal his iPod. The train dragged Lanier, and severed his femoral artery. The Dallas County Medical Examiner said that Lanier died from blunt force trauma suffered during the incident.
DART had faced mounting criticism after the violent incidents, but each time officials insisted that putting officers on every train was financially impossible. But Tuesday there was an about face.
DART officials say the increased security will include sweeps of stations by DART Police and stepped up enforcement of the agency’s Code of Conduct.
DART officials say the increased security will go on indefinitely.
Meanwhile, DART continues to add security cameras at light rail stations. The cameras will keep an eye on rail platforms, ticket machines, and riders on the train. But the cameras won’t record parking lot activity. Ultimately, DART plans to install cameras in all 55 of its light rail stations, at a cost of some $6 million.
In addition to rail security, DART will also have cameras on the new bus fleet that is scheduled to be put in service later this year.
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