MetroLink passengers who commute through the city of St. Louis will begin to see deputies from the City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Department riding on the light rail trains this month.
The new patrols are part of a growing pool of secondary police officers who have been hired to bolster the number of uniformed law enforcement officers on the Metro Transit system. The deputies working as secondary officers are off-duty from their regular shifts at the sheriff’s department and are authorized and trained to work extra hours for Metro Transit. Metro Transit is not their primary employer.
Metro Transit and the City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Department began a partnership late in 2019 which allowed Metro Transit to hire off-duty deputies to provide security and to increase the presence of law enforcement officers at select transit centers within the city limits of St. Louis. That partnership is now expanding to assign additional deputies to ride on MetroLink as the trains operate in the city.
“The City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Department is an important partner for Metro Transit, and the deputies provide an invaluable law enforcement presence on our transit system,” said Taulby Roach, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bi-State Development. “Working together, we are building a safer transit system that can better serve our customers and the entire St. Louis region.”
Over the last nine months, 16 deputies from the City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Department have been serving as off-duty secondary officers at several Metro Transit locations in the City of St. Louis. Beginning this week, those numbers will increase to a total of 42 deputies in the secondary pool for Metro Transit.
“Last year when we saw an increase in incidents on Metro, I met with Taulby Roach and the Metro security advisors to see if the Sheriff’s Office could provide any support. It turns out we were able to help out,” said Sheriff Vernon Betts. “Since our involvement, we have seen a notable decrease in incidents, and I am happy Metro wants to expand this partnership. Deputies are there to provide backup to Metro security and enforce decorum on MetroLink. We have found that when you stop disruptive behavior, it leads to a decrease in incidents that rise to the level of criminal infractions.”
Over the last 12 months, Metro Transit has been working with its police partners and transit partners to increase the number of secondary officers available to support transit security and provide a strong, visible law enforcement presence on the system. In addition to the City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Department, Metro Transit has agreements for secondary officers with the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department. Currently, between those three departments, Metro Transit now has a pool of more than 100 law enforcement officers and deputies available to work as secondary officers. They support full-time police officers and deputies from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department as well as Metro Transit security dpecialists and contracted G4S security guards who are assigned throughout the system.
“These off-duty secondary officers, in addition to law enforcement partners currently assigned to Metro Transit from the St. Louis County Police Department, Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department and St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, provide Metro Transit with a resource of armed law enforcement officers,” said Kevin Scott, general manager of Field Security at Metro Transit. “They are an important component of our layered security strategy. In conjunction with our Metro Transit Security Specialists and contracted security team, we are able to schedule the right people with the right tools where they are needed the most, so we can provide everyone who relies on Metro Transit with safe, comfortable and convenient service.”
The deployment of secondary officers from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department has been utilized for more than a decade and is being expanded to include more Metro Transit locations in St. Clair County.