St. Louis City, County police chiefs respond to security study on Metro public transit

ST. LOUIS, MO - No matter the area or platform St. Louis Metrolink riders use, one problem is consistent: too little security. That finding became even more evident when outside transit agencies came in town to pick apart Metro issues in a $375,000 security study.

“Everyone is getting involved,” WSP security consultant Charles Rappleyea. “Which we like, especially the community.”

Rappleyea served as one of the panelists to give a deeper look into problems on Metrolink.

“I think before they were more in a reactive mode, but I think everybody is more in a proactive phase,” he said.

One crucial tip is addressing inappropriate behavior immediately and consistently. For example, if a conductor sees a rider smoking on the train, a new approach would be to alert that rider over the speaker system to put it out or face consequences at the next stop.

Right now, Metro has 44 officers from St. Louis County, nine from St. Louis city, and 15 from St. Clair County. With that number of officers on the force, the consultants believe there should be better coordination between the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, but that revelation came as a surprise to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

“I don’t see that,” Chief Belmar said. “I think Chief John Hayden and I work very well together. I think Sheriff Watson works well with us, so I don’t see those turf wars right now.”

St. Louis City police chief John Hayden agrees and points to collaborations already underway to make riding Metrolink safer for everyone.

“The take away is 'continue to work on your visibility plan,'” Chief Hayden said. “They talk about the surveillance they have, we also have surveillance on the transits. It was encouraging to know that we have a lot of things they have to mirror what they do in those cities.”

With the issues out on the table, Friday’s meeting served as a starting point to push public transit forward in a positive direction.