I thought when the light rail was created, on the Phoenix side
they decided to use real cops. In fact I thought they formed a
light rail division of the Phoenix Police or something like that.
Of course I called that a "jobs program for cops".
Does anybody know why they replaced the real light rail piggies with rent-a-cops on the Phoenix side???.
I'm not to sure on this, but I thought that "civilians" could only make citizens arrests for "felonies", not "misdemeanors".
And because of that I suspect i there are some legal problems with letting rent-a-cops write people tickets who ride the light rail for free, because the offense is only a "misdemeanor", not a felony. Or as this article says a civil violation.
I suspect that is why the Phoenix City Council has to take a vote on this issue and pass a silly law allowing rent-a-cops to issue civil tickets.
On the other hand Tempe and Mesa have always had rent-a-cop paroling their light rail trains.
The one thing I did notice was that I frequently saw the light rail rent-a-cops calling real cops when they pulled a passenger off the train for not paying.
I always assumed that was because civilians, like the rent-a-cops are, are not allowed to make "misdemeanor" arrests.
Freeloaders on light rail become Phoenix's new focus
By Dustin Gardiner The Republic | azcentral.com Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:59 PM
Four years after light-rail trains began running in Phoenix, city officials are looking to clamp down on freeloaders taking advantage of its “honor system” for fare payments.
The city wants to give private security guards the authority to ticket passengers who don’t pay a fare — currently, only police officers and their assistants are allowed to issue such civil citations.
Voters will be asked to approve the change in a March special election.
The crackdown on fare evaders has already begun. Almost a year ago, Metro light rail, the agency that runs the Valley’s rail system, began using contract security guards to patrol the Phoenix leg of the line. Private guards still can’t write tickets, but they can warn riders and turn them over to police.
Since the change, the number of fare citations given to Phoenix light-rail users has soared, from as few as zero in some months to 47 per month on average.
Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams has been among those pushing for stricter enforcement. She said there has long been a perception that Phoenix doesn’t ticket offending riders as readily as Tempe and Mesa, a claim she said seems to be supported by fare-revenue numbers.
“Everybody I know that rides the train says, ‘I never see anyone pay,’” Williams said. “I’ve heard this for years.”
City Council members voted unanimously last week to put a proposition on the ballot for the March12, 2013, special election, asking voters to authorize the city manager to hire private security workers to give citations on public transit.
Because the change requires an amendment to the city charter, it must be approved by residents.
Phoenix’s motivation seems clear: Figures from Metro show that Phoenix has had a higher fare-evasion rate, a measurement of passengers who don’t pay fares before riding, than Mesa and Tempe, where security guards can give citations on the rail line.
But city officials said the plan to use private security workers isn’t just meant to capture fare revenue. By primarily using contract workers to check fares and patrol rail cars, sworn police officers and their assistants can focus on more serious crimes.
Security guards would be able to issue only civil citations to riders, including those who don’t pay fares, those who use tobacco on the train or those who cross the tracks illegally.
Hillary Foose, a spokeswoman for Metro, said the change would be more financially efficient and allow for greater visibility of security guards on light rail.
She said riders will continue to notice an increasing presence on the rail line in Phoenix.
“We’re on the upswing in terms of our level of effort,” Foose said, noting that a dramatic increase in ridership has, at times, stretched enforcement efforts. “Security is one of those areas where we’ve been challenged to keep up with the growth.”
The Police Department has also stepped up its efforts on light rail, working with other city departments and non-profit groups to launch a program targeted at repeat offenders, who are often homeless riders with mental-health and substance-abuse problems.
Members of the Police Transit Enforcement Unit have created a system to track problem riders who’ve often been caught not paying fares, drinking alcohol or creating other problems on the rail.
This approach allows the city to eventually ban repeat offenders from the system and more easily arrest its most troublesome riders.
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