DART police increasing security to combat surge in crime on its trains

DART began a program this month to increase security on its buses and trains.

In addition to its police force, it now has contracted security officers. The first group of officers is still in training.

In the meantime, FOX 4 continues to receive evidence of illegal activity happening on DART trains.

DART police are seeing an increase in crime. DART hopes the addition of contract security officers will bring those crime numbers down.

Cell phone video sent to FOX 4 appears to show a woman doing drugs on a DART train out in the open Thursday afternoon. This comes as FOX 4 has highlighted safety concerns, including a passenger being pistol-whipped last month.

"If I ride during business hours, I say when the people are going to and from work, I feel safe," said passenger Renee Jolivette. "But I intentionally leave work on time because I feel like after 6 it gets a little sketchy."

Jolivette rides the train for an hour to-and-from work each day. She says she had to call security during a ride last year.

"A gentleman was exposing himself and staring at me," she recalled. "And it scared me. So I called the little safety number. And at the next stop, some officers did get on."


VIDEO: Man 'pistol-whipped' on DART train, police searching for suspects

A FOX 4 viewer sent a video showing a man they described as being "pistol-whipped" while on a northbound Red Line train at LBJ/Central Station in Dallas.

The DART Police Department is regularly budgeted for 220 officers. But this month, DART began adding 90 contract security officers to prioritize riding trains.

The first of those officers are now training. DART hopes all 90 will be staffed by the fall as a part of a 1-year trial contract. 

There are 164 trains, so it hopes to cover most trains at any given time.

"Even if it’s a simple ride back and forth to the store, people need to feel safe when they’re riding the trains or on the buses. And that’s really behind the impetus behind this," said Gordon Shattles with DART.

Last year, DART police made nearly 1,000 arrests at its rail and non-rail facilities. That’s nearly three arrests per day.

The largest percentage of arrests are happening at Downtown Dallas locations.

During the second quarter of this year, police are seeing an increase in assaults, vandalism, drugs, theft, robbery and weapons violations compared to last year’s second quarter. 

DART says it gives 220,000 rides each day, so there’s a large sample size.

Jolivette hopes the addition of security officers will provide better peace of mind.

"A lot of us use DART. We’re grateful to have it in Dallas," she said. "And so any time there’s the opportunity for safety and security and numbers and presence, it’s greatly appreciated."