DART will review rail station safety after shooting death

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on January 18, 2012 at 8:12 PM

DALLAS — After two violent attacks that ended with deaths, there is renewed concern from DART, passengers, and the city of Dallas over safety at train stations.

The most recent incident was in downtown Dallas early Wednesday morning as a man got onto the Pearl Station platform after riding on a Blue Line train. Dominique Wilson was shot and killed after arguing on board with three men.

Police made one arrest.

Last November, 19-year-old Octavius Lanier died after an attempted robbery at MLK Station. Dallas police said a group of boys tried robbing Lanier and pushed him into a moving train.

About 80,000 passengers ride DART trains every day over the system with 55 stations. DART employs some 200 police officers to keep them secure.

But after Wednesday's homicide, there are calls for the transit agency to do more.

DART says passenger perception and crime stats back up the claim that the rail system is safe. Although the Pearl Station murder is rare, it's forcing DART to question what else can be done.

"We'll look at this, look at deployment, look at technology," said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. "All of those things always are examined any time there is a major incident like this."

Across DART's rail system in 2011, the West End station had the most crimes against people. The Illinois station was second with the Ledbetter and Mockingbird stations tied for third.

DART says passengers will see more security in ways that let police see more.

Pearl Station has security cameras installed that captured video of the early morning shooting. DART says all rail stations will have surveillance capabilities by spring.

But some passengers say what's needed is a visible, constant police presence at train platforms.

"I'm quite sure they can beef up, you know, be seen, park a car over there or something," said DART user Charles Strein.

Commuter Jesse Merrill agrees. "I think if ... each one were at a DART station or at a transit center, they wouldn't be having ... situations like these."

Passengers aren't the only ones who think there's not enough law enforcement presence at rail stations.

"Whenever I ride the train, I don't see very many [police]," said Dallas City Council member Linda Koop, who chairs the Transportation Committee. "Even on the train, I don't see many either uniformed personnel or just people taking tickets or just checking tickets... I really don't see that."

DART said it will review adding manpower. Passengers and the city are waiting for answers.

Earlier this month, most DART riders said safety wasn't a concern as they ride trains and buses. Four-thousand were surveyed, and 85 percent of them said they feel safe.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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