ST. LOUIS – A You Paid For It Investigation spotlights an increase in incidents on MetroLink despite the millions of additional dollars poured into security.
According to the MetroLink Task Force Incident Report, incidents increased in the period from April to June of this year.
Bi-State Development Commissioner Derrick Keith Cox is a critic of the organization’s slow pace of security improvement.
“Well, I think we live in a pretty dangerous city, and I think that right now people think that that’s a place they can go and get away with their crime,” he said. “We’ve got to make it uncomfortable for the bad people to do any kind of crime on the platform or on the train, anything to do with MetroLink.”
According to the report, there were 236 incidents in the first quarter of the year, but that increased to 249 incidents in the second quarter.
58% of the incidents are conduct violations like breaking curfew, loitering, and disorderly conduct.
31% of the incidents are violent crimes like assault, homicide robbery, and weapons violations.
11% of the incidents were property crimes like arson, burglary, and theft.
With all the millions being spent by MetroLink, why is the number of incidents going up?
“Actually, maybe some of this is good news,” Taulby Roach, president and CEO of Bi-State Development, said. “It means we’re making some proactive policing…and making the system safer.”
But shouldn’t that mean we’d see fewer incidents?
“For instance, if you’ve seen the real time camera center, we have folks monitoring everybody on the system,” Roach said. “One of the things that can be done is that they can deploy our police assets out and proactively look at crimes or incidents on the system.”
Commissioner Cox wants the return of firearms to security guards. The weapons were taken away years ago. Cox says unarmed guards make the system less safe.
But Roach disagrees and wants the guards to stay unarmed.
“There’s 67 full police officers in this joint task force patrol,” he said. “That’s professional police officers trained and in place.”
Crime is hitting the bottom line. Bi-State says part of the drop in ridership is due to crime on the line. Ridership dropped 3% in this latest quarter.
“Ridership is still way down and to get that ridership back up, we got to make it safe for the ordinary rider to feel that they can come on to MetroLink,” Cox said. “Everybody I talk to does not feel safe yet. And we’ve got to do the things that not only make them feel safer but actually cause things to be safer.”
CEO Roach says the system is safe.
“It’s absolutely safe. I took it this morning. Lovely ride into downtown,” he said.