DART adding extra security measures on trains

Facing mounting scrutiny after a series of high-profile crimes on its trains, DART says it's been stepping up visible security presence.

DART plans to spend millions on equipment and guards. They say most of the trains have an officer on board. But that's not what a FOX 4 crew saw when they took a few rides Tuesday afternoon.

DART hopes to have police and/or security officers on 100 percent of its trains by early next year. They say they are on 85 percent of the trains now.

For someone who rides the DART trains occasionally, that number seems high.

FOX 4 Reporter Richard Ray and Photographer Sam Hernandez rode the trains for about 90 minutes during rush hour on Tuesday. They split up and took the green, red and orange lines. They saw a number of police officers and security guards stationed outside DART stations but did not see a single uniformed officer riding inside a train.

Regular passengers say they rarely see officers on trains, either.

"I've been going on the DART the last four months,” said Naveen Kumar. “I've seen it two or three times."

DART's Operations Safety and Security Committee met and discussed spending nearly $8 million to add more equipment and 30 to 40 armed security guards. DART is also talking about adding more cameras.

Though, the agency’s handling of surveillance video in previous violent crimes continues to spark criticism.

Last July, a passenger's cell phone video caught a mob beating a man inside a DART train and at the Deep Ellum station. Four people have been arrested while others are still sought. Yet, DART refuses to release its platform video.

In 2015, video of a suspected rapist at the Walnut Hill DART station was not released until months later after the suspect was accused of raping again.

“It is an ongoing discussion. We have it with you guys as much as anyone,” explained DART spokesman Morgan Lyons.

He says staff and the board are taking direction from DART Chief of Police James Spiller.

"In these cases, the police tell us that it is in the best interest of getting the arrest, of getting this concluded, of getting the conviction, of not releasing the video at this time,” Lyons said.

But, it's obviously not an ironclad policy. A few days ago, DART did tweet out a surveillance picture of a suspect in a petty crime who's been breaking into DART vending machines. They asked for help in making an arrest.

In any case, every passenger FOX 4 spoke with welcomes the prospect of more police on DART trains.

Like the Dallas Police Department, DART is also trying to fill several vacant positions. But hiring armed security guards gets people on the job quicker.

The DART board is expected to vote on it next month.

DART is also reporting that serious crime is down from 766 by this time in 2016 to 607 thus far this year.

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