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47 that the dispatcher does not accidentally say something, covert an audible alarm that sounds in the dispatch center. This sys- channels are usually one-way--the dispatcher cannot talk tem has been useful in responding quickly to operator back to the operator but can hear the goings-on inside the bus. assaults, along with general crime and accidents. The emer- The covert button may be linked with an electronic distress gency electronic distress sign on the headboard has been sign that alerts the public to emergency situations on a bus. effective in getting the public's attention. When the operator Signs usually state "call police" or "call 911." Overt commu- accidentally hit the panic button and the distress sign "call nication allows two-way communication between the dis- 911" flashed, the public notified law enforcement right away patcher and the operator. A button, either covert or overt, and police response was very rapid. In such a situation, the linked with an AVL system would alert the dispatch center SWAT team arrives at the scene and directs the bus to the about the emergency and provide the dispatcher with the loca- side of the road. The bus is secured until the team confirms tion of the bus in distress. In some cases, this information may that the driver of the vehicle is indeed the operator assigned also be delivered directly to the police. to the bus and had unintentionally pressed the button. Advantages DNA KITS Operator is able to immediately alert police or dispatch DNA kits have been typically used by law enforcement agen- of an emergency. cies around the world to address sexual crimes. Samples col- Communications can be done covertly if necessary. lected from DNA kits can be used to identify and prosecute Response time is reduced. assailants. They are being used by the Transport for London to identify and prosecute those who spit on bus operators. Lon- don is currently the only city in which the kits are being used Agency Experience for this purpose. In London, the rate of serious attacks on bus operators has been low; however, TFL acknowledges that non- Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation serious incidents can have a significant psychological impact Authority, Cleveland, Ohio on operators. The most problematic of the nonserious incidents GCRTA operators are instructed to utilize the covert emer- has been spitting. There were more than 1,000 incidents of gency alarm to notify Transit Police if the operator believes spitting assaults on London buses, many of them aimed at bus that he or she is in danger. The emergency communications operators. In response, a workplace violence unit has been system enables the police dispatcher to hear conversations established to locate assailants of bus operators, and DNA kits in the operator's compartment. Otherwise, operators are have been issued to bus operators. Police use the DNA col- instructed to use the overt alarm button, followed by the emer- lected by the operators to identify and prosecute individuals gency message code for immediate assistance. The overt but- who attack operators by spitting on them by comparing the ton allows unrestricted two-way communication between the samples with the national UK DNA database. The kits are also operator and the police. being used successfully in London's subway system--there are DNA kits at every station and these have been used in at least a hundred prosecutions against those who attack subway Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, personnel in the previous year. The use of the kits is followed St. Petersburg, Florida through by legal team in conjunction with the London Metro- politan Police. Transit industry experts believe that major rea- When the covert or overt emergency button is pressed, the sons other nations with large national DNA databases are not AVL/CAD system automatically highlights the bus in dis- using these kits is the cost of DNA analysis, along with public tress (as a flashing display) on the CAD screen. There is also concerns about individual rights.