Better collaboration creates safer transit system, chiefs say

By St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief John Hayden, St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton, St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson, and City of St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts

The coronavirus turned 2020 into a year we will never forget. Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presented, it has been a year of tremendous progress for all of us involved in tackling the security issues on the Metro Transit system. Transit users in the St. Louis region have benefitted greatly from our unified approach to providing a safer transit experience on their mobile neighborhood. That has been the goal of our elected officials, Bi-State Development, other regional leaders, and our police departments. We are committed to protecting riders and improving the perception of safety for what is one of the region’s greatest economic development assets. We can confirm that significant transit security improvements were made in 2020 because we have helped make it happen. We are proud to say together with the Public Safety team at Metro, we created an opportunity for real and positive change.

Our teams assigned to MetroLink from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, and City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Office have been successful because we embraced a shared responsibility to work together to support the transit system that serves the many residents and businesses in our communities across the bi-state area.

This new attitude of cooperation is helping to rebuild respect and trust among our organizations and with the passengers. We may wear different uniforms, but we are training together, teaming up to ride the MetroLink system together, presenting a new united front to riders and helping to create a transit community we are proud to be a part of. We are working seamlessly as one unit to be proactive in preventing issues before they happen, and if they do, to address them as quickly as possible.

We are making a positive difference, as evidenced by the downward trend in crime numbers, and by the progress shown in the quarterly WSP scorecards which track and measure the implementation of safety and security recommendations.

We look forward to seeing our family, friends, and neighbors return to riding Metro Transit once the pandemic is officially over. Then they can see for themselves that we have turned a major corner and together we are delivering safer, more secure trips on Metro Transit. Our teams will be right there working hard with Metro Transit to keep you safe as you move about the region.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The above letter was received Jan. 21 and predates the shooting of MetroLink security guard James Cook on Jan. 31.

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