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Rail News: Security

Metra launches onboard police patrol unit

Metra yesterday announced the creation of a new onboard police unit.

Made up of six full-time officers, the unit will work on all 11 of the agency's lines, but will focus on areas where the security need is greatest, Metra officials said in a press release.

The officers will travel in uniform and plain clothes and will supplement the efforts of Metra police officers and detectives who are already patrolling trains and platforms. Officers in the new unit will work to stop criminal behavior on trains, assist conductors and protect customers, Metra officials said.

In 2015, the Chicago commuter railroad's police conducted onboard patrols on 3,500 trains, up from 3,200 in the previous year. The creation of the new unit, which marks the first time Metra has dedicated full-time resources to onboard patrols, will greatly increase those numbers, Metra officials said.

Last year, Metra kicked off new initiatives aimed at making its police force more efficient and responsive.

Those efforts include reducing overtime costs by assigning manpower based on activity shift level; assigning officers based on geographic area instead of rail line; regular training on criminal and traffic law, accident reconstruction and firearms; the implementation of field reporting using laptop computers; and an overhaul of the agency's police dispatch and reporting system.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/4/2016