DART said Tuesday it plans to hire more DART police officers and install cameras on light rail trains to increase safety for riders and deter crime.
The agency is under fire after a man was beaten unconscious by a mob aboard a train and on a Deep Ellum platform on July 30.
If not for a cell phone video recorded by an onlooker, exactly who did what when the mob attacked would likely have remained a mystery. There was not a camera inside the train, only outside on the platform. DART has chosen not to release that video, saying the incident is under investigation.
DART’s deputy chief of police said plans are underway to equip 48 trains with cameras by March 2018 and the remaining 100-plus trains within two years.
“It is a deterrent,” DART deputy chief Matt Walling said. “One of the problems on the trains as opposed to the buses is a sense of anonymity. They feel empowered to do bad things, because they don't feel like anyone is looking."
Walling was also asked by the DART board about DART police staffing. Several DART riders have told FOX4 it is rare to see officers on the trains during nighttime hours.
“It's a complex issue on staffing,” Walling said. “We look at crime data and ridership complaints, and try to deploy where they will have the biggest impact.
Last week, DART said it would increase patrols at night at the Deep Ellum station where the attack occurred. There are currently 200 DART police officers for the 233,000 passengers who ride DART on an average day.
“We're hiring,” said DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. “The 26 positions and some fair enforcement. We believe we have adequate resources, but we are challenged like every police agency in this area with keeping the population up.”
There is also a plan to have DART's seven supervisors begin riding the trains in uniform to help reduce the perception some people have that they aren't being watched on the train.
Three people have been arrested to date for their role in the mob attack. Police are still seeking other people involved.