DART beefing up security on trains, buses



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Posted on February 21, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 21 at 7:06 PM

DALLAS — Increasing security on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail network is a move the agency had no choice but to make.

"The key message is that we are paying attention to what's going on, and we are willing to make adjustments in our operation to maintain a safe system," said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons.

Lately, it hasn't appeared that way.

Octavius Lanier was killed after being pushed off a platform into a moving train at MLK Station in November.

In January, another man died during an argument at the Pearl Station downtown.

This month, two innocent bystanders and a DART police officer were shot at the Arapaho Station in Richardson. One of those passengers died.

In all, three deaths over 76 days have forced the transit agency to rethink security.

"From DART's perspective, as I said, we're not going to put up with bad behavior," said DART president Gary Thomas.

On Monday, DART quietly began adding uniformed police, fare enforcement officers, or armed security guards to every train, around the clock.

Lyons said DART is spending $41,000 a month to hire 20 armed security guards for the increased enforcement.

It is also putting some of its police officers on overtime and pulling others out of offices to make this high-visibility offensive work.

By the end of next month, security cameras will be installed at all 55 train platforms, Thomas said.

Twenty DART buses already have cameras. Additions to the fleet will come equipped with five on-board cameras.

Trains are slowly getting camera systems as well.

Plus, police have started sweeping through busy stations looking for anyone who appears to be suspicious.

"There are a lot of citations being written. There are a lot of arrests being made for various reasons," said DART Police Chief James Spiller.

DART said the increased security is indefinite to reassure riders that the transit system is safe.

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com