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Why do we need Metro Cops

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Can someone enlighten me as to the need for a specialist police force for Metro? Is this the case in other US cities? Coming from somewhere where trains and buses are effectively policed by the regular everyday cops I'm unclear as to why a separate police force is required.

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I thought it was supplemental to HPD and focused on transit safety and hazards, Park and Ride lots/crime, and HOV lane issues, but they also apparently have a canine unit, a SWAT team (called SORT) and ten officers assigned to MAP (motorists' assistance program).

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Can someone enlighten me as to the need for a specialist police force for Metro? Is this the case in other US cities? Coming from somewhere where trains and buses are effectively policed by the regular everyday cops I'm unclear as to why a separate police force is required.

I think most major cities have "Metro cops". My thinking is that they have "Jurisdiction" to make enforce the rules, safeguard riders, employees, and their equipment.

HPD wouldn't really much if some joe schlub vandalized a metro stop or refused to pay his $1.

Then again, we also have HISD and the various cops for the colleges and universities, the same applies for them.

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So are the still officially HPD? Or a quasi-private police force? (By that I mean not supported by COH tax dollars).If they aren't directly responsible to the City, are they subject to investigation by HPD if they are involved, say, in a shooting of a suspect?

Edited by sidegate

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So are the still officially HPD? Or a quasi-private police force? (By that I mean not supported by COH tax dollars).If they aren't directly responsible to the City, are they subject to investigation by HPD if they are involved, say, in a shooting of a suspect?

No, they're a totally separate entity, but share the same COH court system. Hopefully someone familiar with this can elaborate on this.

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Can someone enlighten me as to the need for a specialist police force for Metro? Is this the case in other US cities? Coming from somewhere where trains and buses are effectively policed by the regular everyday cops I'm unclear as to why a separate police force is required.

Fare checks, policing busy intersections where people constantly obstruct the train, etc. In other cities the train has its own right of way and jumping a turnstile is harder so it is not as much of a problem. My friend was pulled over and ticketed on the freeway by a Metro cop, though. I didn't think they bothered.

Edited by kylejack

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Fare checks, policing busy intersections where people constantly obstruct the train, etc. In other cities the train has its own right of way and jumping a turnstile is harder so it is not as much of a problem. My friend was pulled over and ticketed on the freeway by a Metro cop, though. I didn't think they bothered.

Now that you mention it, one pulled me over for going across 4 lanes of traffic to make a right turn. There were no cars in sight, BTW. Metro motorcyclist pulled me over, ran the checks and cut me loose with a warning.

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Okay so  I understand what they do, and the need for it to be done, but where do the funds come that support them? Seems that a whole separate entity and administrative infrastructure that accompanies it isn't the best use of resources (wherever they originate). If the funds were available in the budget, supplementing HPD with an equivalent number of officers devoted to these tasks who could plug straight into and avail of the HPD support system would achieve the same thing.<br>

Edited by sidegate

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Okay so  I understand what they do, and the need for it to be done, but where do the funds come that support them? Seems that a whole separate entity and administrative infrastructure that accompanies it isn't the best use of resources (wherever they originate). If the funds were available in the budget, supplementing HPD with an equivalent number of officers devoted to these tasks who could plug straight into and avail of the HPD support system would achieve the same thing.<br>

MPD is part of the METRO budget, so like the rest of the agency it's paid for with the 3/4 cent sales tax.

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Can someone enlighten me as to the need for a specialist police force for Metro? Is this the case in other US cities? Coming from somewhere where trains and buses are effectively policed by the regular everyday cops I'm unclear as to why a separate police force is required.

Most cities I've lived in with large mass transit operations have their own police force. New York and Chicago, specifically stand out. New York was all transit cops. Chicago has a CTA police force, but most patrols and bomb-sniffing details are farmed out to Securitas.

In Seattle, King County Metro uses a combination of Securitas and King County Sheriff's deputies. It was originally all privately-contracted until a video came out about a year ago of a teen-aged girl betting severely beaten in a subway tunnel with three rent-a-cops standing around her doing nothing because they're not authorized to intervene.

The regional transit operator, Sound Transit, uses King County Sheriff's deputies, but puts them in Sound Transit police uniforms.

Tangent:

I've always felt that Houston had too many overlapping police agencies. The two I think should be merged into others are HISD Police, and the Constables.

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Scale probably enters the equation as well. Belfast is extremely modest in terms of population and area compared to Houston, so one can see the need for specialist operations here.

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Most cities I've lived in with large mass transit operations have their own police force. New York and Chicago, specifically stand out. New York was all transit cops. Chicago has a CTA police force, but most patrols and bomb-sniffing details are farmed out to Securitas.

In Seattle, King County Metro uses a combination of Securitas and King County Sheriff's deputies. It was originally all privately-contracted until a video came out about a year ago of a teen-aged girl betting severely beaten in a subway tunnel with three rent-a-cops standing around her doing nothing because they're not authorized to intervene.

The regional transit operator, Sound Transit, uses King County Sheriff's deputies, but puts them in Sound Transit police uniforms.

Tangent:

I've always felt that Houston had too many overlapping police agencies. The two I think should be merged into others are HISD Police, and the Constables.

while I agree there are too many police forces (like state university police forces that have state police powers just like a DPS officer that many students think are renta-pigs.....why not just make them DPS officers and supervise them out of the closest DPS office?)

but Constables are not city police they are county police and specifically they are not actually the same as a sheriff (also county).....both are elected positions, but a sheriff technically is for law enforcement while the main job of a constable is serving court papers for failure to appears ect.

the reason that the constables in Harris county do so much patrolling is because the guy that was before constable Radack in precinct 5 (back when Radack was precinct 5 instead of 3 like now) did not have a lot of warrants to serve in west Houston, but he had a bunch of well to do neighborhoods in the area that were willing to pay for renta-pigs or even better constables if they could get real law enforcement officers to patrol neighborhoods

this was back before the westside command center had been built and you NEVER saw HPD around west Houston (back when people called most of west Houston southwest Houston before southwest Houston became the ghetto)

you would see 2 or 3 constable cars sometimes out on Briar Forest between the beltway and Dairy Ashford sitting in the turning area of the medians with the radar

and then they would patrol the neighborhoods at night on a rented out basis for off duty officers

the constables out and about is a county by county thing.....I know a constable in a county near Lubbock that hands all his warrants off to the sheriff.....he actually gets paid next to nothing, but he gets benefits and a retirement and he gets to have cop lights in the grill of his personal pickup and carry a gun.....and that is what is important to him :)

Edited by TV2EBoogaloo

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I was at the Hermann Park rail stop a few weeks ago, and witnessed METRO police handing out tickets to elderly and homeless. Then they arrested some other guy who was minding his business because he talked back. Talk about a power trip.

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Moral of the story is:

When an officer is working on doing something that doesn't concern you, just mind your own business.

Edited by ricco67

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Moral of the story is:

When an officer is working on doing something that doesn't concern you, just mind your own business.

This is how police states are created. Congratulations for doing your part.

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This is how police states are created. Congratulations for doing your part.

As long as they were operating in a professional manner and not beating someone up for the sake of a good time, bet your bottom dollar I'm going to mind my own business.

Might beat the rap but you can't beat the ride.

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Might beat the rap but you can't beat the ride.

You probably do not know what that phrase means in a Constitutional sense, do you?

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Its always great to read the eloquence of your writings, so for the sake of the studio audience, please elaborate.

I just know I don't think pissing off a cop is a good idea, it could potentially ruin your weekend.

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I was at the Hermann Park rail stop a few weeks ago, and witnessed METRO police handing out tickets to elderly and homeless. Then they arrested some other guy who was minding his business because he talked back. Talk about a power trip.

What were the elderly and homeless doing? Why did the guy talk back?

RedScare: I think what Ricco meant is that if one stumbles upon a cop, likely one would not understand all of the nuances of the involved, so "speaking up" would be unhelpful unless a blatant inappropriate action occurred.

Edited by VicMan

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If you see abuses, tape record them. There are Android applications now that instantly upload to the internet, most notably Qik and U-Stream. Maybe iPhone too.

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What were the elderly and homeless doing? Why did the guy talk back?

RedScare: I think what Ricco meant is that if one stumbles upon a cop, likely one would not understand all of the nuances of the involved, so "speaking up" would be unhelpful unless a blatant inappropriate action occurred.

Metro police was hiding behind the wall to bust people who didn't pay as soon as the train would arrive. Literally when the train would get there, they'd pop up like gangbusters. All the people they wrote up were elderly and homeless. They made old ladies cry. Like they can afford the tickets anyway, what's the point?

Then this other guy got off, they called him over, he was walking to Hermann Park, they told him come back, he said ok. Then I guess he didn't pay, the next thing you know they are yelling at him, he asked back, "What are you going to do, arrest me?" So they threw him down and had his face pressed. It was sick.

And even when I got to the train, a Metro cop started yelilng at me. "You know I could give you a $100 ticket for jaywalking." I said "ok." He said, "Say sorry and you won't have to pay." I kind of wondered if he was serious. Then he said again "Say sorry!" So I said "sorry" and just went to the other end of the station. These guys were all roided up and on a serious power trip.

If you see abuses, tape record them. There are Android applications now that instantly upload to the internet, most notably Qik and U-Stream. Maybe iPhone too.

I saw some people recording. If they put it up or not, I don't know.

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I was at grabbing dinner few weeks ago and a Metro cop parked and after a few minutes went in to the convenient store across the street and made an arrest. After putting the suspect in the backseat another officer who had pulled up during the first arrest ran down the street yelling at people to get out of his way. It was rather amusing because he was going full speed and overweight, and the guy he was running for was just standing there not moving and confused on what was going on. Though I really don't know the situation, and maybe the guys was a risk of some sort, but he was just standing there after crossing the street. The officer arrested him and walked him back to his Metro Police car.

Anyways, i was really wondering what their jurisdiction was and why they were making arrests like that.

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They are supposed to only operate on streets served by Metro, which of course is just about every main street and freeway in Houston.

Sadly Metro cops are on par with Constables. Very minimal training and most are unable to get on with real departments like HPD or the County Sheriffs department. There's also a lot of part time Metro cops or used to be because I knew several firefighters that used Metro as their second job.

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With elderly who clearly have little means of paying, it may help to give them maybe one warning and/or mention the elderly discount programs.

According to http://www.ridemetro.org/FareInfo/Discounted_Fare.aspx

Elderly who are 60-69 years of age get a 50% discount

Elderly who are 70+ ride for no cost

The homeless who use the train with no intention of paying in any way aren't supposed to be on the train. Getting actual money from them would be getting blood from a turnip, but it may help to expel them from the trains. This would happen in any major city.

Simply "stinging" people who get on without paying doesn't seem like an abuse to me, but it may help for the cops to at least give warnings to some people (especially elderly who are 60 or over and who may not know about the discount programs).

However the bit about demanding someone say "sorry" for jaywalking is too much - He should have said "Okay, I will give you a warning this time, but next time I see you do it, I will issue a ticket" - No need to make someone say "sorry"

"Then this other guy got off, they called him over, he was walking to Hermann Park, they told him come back, he said ok. Then I guess he didn't pay, the next thing you know they are yelling at him, he asked back, "What are you going to do, arrest me?" So they threw him down and had his face pressed. It was sick."

When both the cops and the other guy have quick tempers.. it's not good. If one thinks the cop is speaking too rudely to him or her, he/she should ask for the cop's name.

Metro police was hiding behind the wall to bust people who didn't pay as soon as the train would arrive. Literally when the train would get there, they'd pop up like gangbusters. All the people they wrote up were elderly and homeless. They made old ladies cry. Like they can afford the tickets anyway, what's the point?

Then this other guy got off, they called him over, he was walking to Hermann Park, they told him come back, he said ok. Then I guess he didn't pay, the next thing you know they are yelling at him, he asked back, "What are you going to do, arrest me?" So they threw him down and had his face pressed. It was sick.

And even when I got to the train, a Metro cop started yelilng at me. "You know I could give you a $100 ticket for jaywalking." I said "ok." He said, "Say sorry and you won't have to pay." I kind of wondered if he was serious. Then he said again "Say sorry!" So I said "sorry" and just went to the other end of the station. These guys were all roided up and on a serious power trip.

I saw some people recording. If they put it up or not, I don't know.

Edited by VicMan

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And even when I got to the train, a Metro cop started yelilng at me. "You know I could give you a $100 ticket for jaywalking." I said "ok." He said, "Say sorry and you won't have to pay." I kind of wondered if he was serious. Then he said again "Say sorry!" So I said "sorry" and just went to the other end of the station. These guys were all roided up and on a serious power trip.

You have every right to jaywalk. It's not a real law and they can't arrest you. Tell them this next time and make them apologize to you for their insolence.

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You have every right to jaywalk. It's not a real law and they can't arrest you. Tell them this next time and make them apologize to you for their insolence.

Read Texas Transportation Code Section 552 section 5 or 6. That's a real law. I'm sure there's also a city ordinance that prohibits crossing a street outside a crosswalk.

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Metro Police are definitely the worst. I was pulled off a bus for "disorderly conduct" because the bus driver overheard me making a complaint to the Metro customer service department (a whole mess in itself) about him being 20 minutes behind schedule yet again. The officers were rude, poorly trained, and one was comically overweight and fit the description of pig perfectly. And of course he was the most aggressive. It's quite obvious these guys don't see alot of action. They are just one step above working with me at TSA.

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Metro Police are definitely the worst. I was pulled off a bus for "disorderly conduct" because the bus driver overheard me making a complaint to the Metro customer service department (a whole mess in itself) about him being 20 minutes behind schedule yet again. The officers were rude, poorly trained, and one was comically overweight and fit the description of pig perfectly. And of course he was the most aggressive. It's quite obvious these guys don't see alot of action. They are just one step above working with me at TSA.

Probably the only offense you had was probably being a jerk in making a comment loud enough for the driver to hear.

Sorry, but that's just rude.

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Read Texas Transportation Code Section 552 section 5 or 6. That's a real law. I'm sure there's also a city ordinance that prohibits crossing a street outside a crosswalk.

I think my overt sarcasm to the o.p. eluded you. :)

Edited by Jeebus

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I think my overt sarcasm to the o.p. eluded you. :)

must have been one of those days where I was reading everything literally.

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not sure why I am deserving of sarcasm

I mean the original poster to which I had replied directly to.

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Probably the only offense you had was probably being a jerk in making a comment loud enough for the driver to hear.

Sorry, but that's just rude.

If I'm on the phone and speaking at an appropriate volume why does it matter if he overhears me or not? The conversation is none of his concern until approached by a supervisor. I'm not going to whisper as not to hurt his feelings. I'm sure if I was calling in to compliment him every week this would not have occurred. Perhaps he was being a jerk for being 20 minutes late every trip. Because surprise, when they changed drivers, that trip ran on time.

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If I'm on the phone and speaking at an appropriate volume why does it matter if he overhears me or not? The conversation is none of his concern until approached by a supervisor. I'm not going to whisper as not to hurt his feelings. I'm sure if I was calling in to compliment him every week this would not have occurred. Perhaps he was being a jerk for being 20 minutes late every trip. Because surprise, when they changed drivers, that trip ran on time.

I agree. What I talk about to someone other than the driver is none of his business.

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If I'm on the phone and speaking at an appropriate volume why does it matter if he overhears me or not? The conversation is none of his concern until approached by a supervisor. I'm not going to whisper as not to hurt his feelings. I'm sure if I was calling in to compliment him every week this would not have occurred. Perhaps he was being a jerk for being 20 minutes late every trip. Because surprise, when they changed drivers, that trip ran on time.

Because its akin to some one talking to YOUR boss in front of you saying you're not doing enough. I think it is humiliating to the driver, and I think that call should have waited until you got off the bus.

Is it REALLY that hard to have a LITTLE compassion or politeness?

Some things are supposed to be done discretely.

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Because its akin to some one talking to YOUR boss in front of you saying you're not doing enough. I think it is humiliating to the driver, and I think that call should have waited until you got off the bus.

Is it REALLY that hard to have a LITTLE compassion or politeness?

Some things are supposed to be done discretely.

Maybe. But I lose all sympathy for him since he then called the cops.

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Maybe. But I lose all sympathy for him since he then called the cops.

Apparently you didn't have sympathy to begin with since you were already complaining about him anyway.

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