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51 · Emphasis patrols--These patrols are normally con- ducted in conjunction with other law enforcement agen- cies to focus on high-crime areas. · Transit boarding teams--The Transit Boarding Teams are normally composed of plainclothes officers who ride a bus on a specific route that has been identified as a source of operator or employee assaults. The perpetra- tors are typically apprehended prior to an assault being committed. · Passenger exclusion program--This program was estab- lished to modify unacceptable behavior within the transit environment. The individual causing the disrup- tion is served with an exclusion order that lasts no less than 90 days and is also arrested if the situation warrants it. Edmonton Transit System, Alberta, Canada FIGURE 27 MBTA Transit Police The ETS Security force consists of 47 peace officers. They outreach to MBTA operators. are organized into six teams of seven Community Peace Offi- (Courtesy: MBTA.) cers along with two Security Call Takers/Dispatchers, pro- viding 24-h coverage, 7 days a week. One team is on duty Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, during days and two teams are on duty during evenings. Four Boston, Massachusetts marked patrol units are available for their use. Officer duties include passenger security and safety, order maintenance, After violent incidents on MBTA's Routes 23 and 28, the patrolling the system (visibility and deterrence), and ensuring MBTA is now formally escorting buses through high-crime that passengers are in possession of "Proof of Payment." ETS neighborhoods, and has placed more transit officers on its officers are peace officers equipped with expandable batons most notorious line, Route 28. Transit police follow the and pepper spray but do not carry a firearm. Since they are not roughly 16 buses that travel the route and monitor live video allowed to pursue criminal investigations or make arrests, feeds; this allows officers to immediately address incidents they work closely with the local Edmonton police force to and potential crimes and the flexibility to focus on crowded ensure that offenders are arrested and prosecuted. ETS Secu- buses. Officers also ride the route during peak afternoon rity has an information management system--including a hours, when high school students head home and there is an daily crime forecast--which assists deployment of resources increase in the number of incidents. In October 2010, MBTA to hot spots, and a performance management system based on Transit Police started visiting bus garages on an informal CompStat. Also, ETS officers, shown in Figure 26, commu- monthly basis to communicate with bus operators about nicate with ETS operators frequently to address potential security and safety concerns, and any problematic issues on problems and issues. their routes. This allows the MBTA Transit Police to antici- pate problems and address both serious and minor crimes. A poster from the outreach program is shown in Figure 27. SELF-DEFENSE TOOLS As of the time of this report and as far as the contractor team is aware, the only agency in the United States and Canada issuing self-defense tools to bus operators is the Houston METRO. Houston METRO has been issuing pepper gel and providing training on its use to its operators on a voluntary basis. Note that in Canada, pepper spray, along with pepper gel, is classified as a prohibited weapon. In the United States, state laws regulating its use and the permitted concentration and range of use vary. Liability is a significant concern for transit agencies as well as for operators themselves. Without FIGURE 26 ETS officers communicate with ETS operators. witnesses or video or audio recording of an attack, it may be (Courtesy: Edmonton Transit System.) difficult to prove that the bus operator was defending himself
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52 or herself. Also, appropriate use of the tool (using it effec- · With pepper spray and pepper gel, there is risk of cross- tively without excessive force) requires good judgment. contamination (splatter on operator and passengers); this Comprehensive training by qualified experts is required to is minimal for pepper gel, but still possible; also, effec- ensure that operators know how and when to use this self- tiveness may diminish when used against those under defense tool. In addition, bus operators need to be instructed the influence of drugs or alcohol or mentally disturbed on basic legal issues involved with the use of the tool and individuals. any potential liability that their agency and they themselves could face. These liability issues also apply to self-defense. Agency Experience Union and operator perspective is that this type of responsi- bility is the domain of law enforcement and, thus far, a small Houston METRO, Houston, Texas percentage of Houston METRO's operators have decided to carry the pepper gel. It can be noted that Texas is a "shall- The decision to issue a self-defense tool was made by Hous- issue" state for concealed firearms, meaning the state has a ton METRO after the need for increased bus operator protec- liberal permit-granting policy; its granting authority has no tion was determined. Though METRO has its own transit discretion and is required to automatically issue a concealed police, its service area is large and affects METRO's response carry permit to any applicant meeting minimum criteria. times to emergencies. After conducting research into basic Metro Transit bus operators in Minneapolis have effectively self-defense training, pepper spray/gel, the kubotan, and taser, and appropriately used pepper spray against attackers in sev- METRO selected the pepper gel. METRO's objective is to eral instances. One of the survey respondents (also located give bus operators the option to carry the pepper gel, which is in Texas) noted that their bus operators are allowed to to be used in times of conflict only after every attempt to carry short blades because the agency considers them to be resolve the situation has been exhausted, including verbal de- more of a tool rather than a weapon. Metro Transit provides escalation, and if the bus operator believes a threat of bodily training to bus operators on pepper spray, though Metro injury from a capable source exists. Operators who elect to Transit does not directly issue the canister to its operators. carry the pepper gel are required to carry only METRO-issued Minnesota, like Texas, is a "shall-issue" state for concealed pepper gel canisters and to complete the training developed firearms. and provided by METRO. Agency experience with the tool is limited because no METRO bus operator has used the pepper gel in any instance. Thus far, only 36 of approximately 1,500 Advantages bus operators, or 2.5%, have elected to carry the pepper gel and undergo training. However, there has been increasing · Bus operator perspective--Increased perception of secu- interest from bus operators and an agreement has been rity and management support for operators, especially in reached with the union to train all new bus operators in the use states with more lenient weapons purchase and carry of the pepper gel during their orientation phase, and then pro- laws; the tool can be optional for operators. vide them with the option of carrying it after they have com- · Agency perspective--Ease of procurement and deploy- pleted the training. Guidelines for the use of pepper gel by ment. METRO's bus operators are summarized in this section. The · Of the less-than-lethal options, pepper spray and pepper full text of the guidelines is provided in Appendix A. The pep- gel are based on OC, which is generally effective in per gel is to be used for defensive purposes only, and operators subduing violent individuals from a distance; physical must make every effort to neutralize or avoid potentially vio- contact with the assailant would not be needed for self- lent situations through verbal and nonverbal tactics, including defense. Pepper gel is water-based, cannot be inhaled, retreat, before using the tool. and is appropriate in a tubular environment. Metro Transit, Minneapolis, Minnesota Disadvantages Metro Transit offers pepper spray training to its bus opera- · Agency perspective--improper use of the tool may tors who choose to carry pepper spray. Of Metro Transit's expose the agency to lawsuits and negative publicity 1,400 operators, 100 have undergone pepper spray training, and may potentially encourage operators to be more which is available to operators who request it. This training is aggressive with customers. provided by a law enforcement training and consulting group. · Bus operator perspective--improper use of the tool may To undergo training, operators need to agree to background expose the bus operator to lawsuits or even criminal checks and purchase training materials, and must retrain every charges; some operators may view the tool as another two years. Operators have successfully used the pepper spray element that the operator needs to learn how to use and to defend themselves against assault in several incidents. take responsibility for. There have been no customer complaints with regard to the · Transit agency experience with the tool is limited. use of the tool. The cost of the pepper gel is $19.95 per canis-