Last night, on WFAA, Byron Harris reported: "DART says it doesn't have enough police to put an officer on every train, but it is trying to place uniformed officers on platforms, where they can be seen." But then, this morning, this from The Dallas Morning News: "'Effective today, there's a uniformed presence on every single train we're running,' DART Executive Director Gary Thomas told the Garland City Council on Monday night." By which he means: police or fare-enforcement officer or security guard.
[Update at 9:25 a.m.: I asked DART spokesman Morgan Lyons to reconcile those two accounts. He says, "The uniformed presence is correct. They're not all DART police officers. There are 140 total staff dedicated to this. It's a mixture of DART police, fare-enforcement officers and security officers. To do that we've redeployed some officers, and there's some overtime. And during peak service, we operate 42 trains. We're gonna do this all day. Trains start at 5 in the morning and go till 1 in the morning, and it will not be every rail car, but every train. You may ride on a three-car train and not see an officer during your part of the trip, but they're on the train."]
Maybe the man in charge can clarify: For the second time in as many months, but for the first time since the Arapaho Center Station shootiings that left passenger Eric Johnson dead, DART Police Chief James Spiller will address the transit agency's Security, Safety, Public Relations & Operations Committee. Says the bare-bones agenda for the 2:30 sitdown downtown, "This briefing item will support the achievement of the Board Strategic Priority I: Strive to exceed customer expectations." But it's the supplemental-info agenda that provides the details, including a recap of the chief's January visit to DART HQ and the DART board's comments for Spiller, who's approaching his seventh year in command. The whole sum-up follows, including a pat on the back for Spiller's ability to generate revenue. But here's the nut graph:
Chief Spiller stated the number of officers at DART, based on a manpower allocation model created by Booze Allen Hamilton, should have been 680 sworn officers, plus 280 Fare Enforcement Officers. Based on budgetary constraints, those numbers cannot be accomplished by this agency. Chief Spiller advised he therefore came up with a reasonable, affordable number, noting that resources would sometimes have to be used instead of people. Approximately 30 staff positions per year are added.
The rest is below.
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DART Police FY 2011 Police Activity Update and Future Plan of Operations
Chief James Spiller briefed the Committee (slides on file with the Office of Board Support) as follows ...
Mr. Danish requested statistics on paratransit safety and security. Chief Spiller advised he will provide a future briefing with the requested information.
Mr. Slagel requested statistics comparing the number of DART officers with the number of officers employed by similar agencies.
Ms. Wilkins noted she is pleased to see partnerships with the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Independent School District, and asked that Chief Spiller keep the Board apprised of ongoing initiatives. She further questioned DART's obligation relating to HOV lane enforcement. Chief Spiller responded DART has no obligation to TXDOT for any set amount of patrol hours.
Mr. Chrisman noted his pleasure with the fact that generated revenue is better than numbers posted in previous years. Chief Spiller noted he will keep the Board apprised of ongoing revenue generation. Mr. Chrisman also requested information relating to the amount DART has saved by not having to send officers to court.
Ms. Dunlop Gates voiced her observation that DART officers are patrolling the Fair Park area well, and asked the Chief to relay to his staff that their work is not going unnoticed. She opined that HOV enforcement is not the best use of a DART officer's time.
Mr. Tsao stated that an 80% safety goal seems reasonable based on the recent openings of new lines. He has viewed a downward crime trend and believes it to be based on police availability. Mr. Tsao requested the Chief's opinion as to whether or not DART needs
more officers or policies. Chief Spiller stated the number of officers at DART, based on a manpower allocation model created by Booze Allen Hamilton, should have been 680 sworn officers, plus 280 Fare Enforcement Officers. Based on budgetary constraints, those numbers cannot be accomplished by this agency. Chief Spiller advised he therefore came up with a reasonable, affordable number, noting that resources would sometimes have to be used instead of people. Approximately 30 staff positions per year are added.