L.A. Sheriff's Department Heightens Metro Rail Security

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which provides Metro Rail security, has heightened patrols and monitoring services in an effort to prevent possible anniversary attacks this upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Metro Rail riders, North Hollywood station. (Photo by Reut Cohen)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which provides Metro Rail security, has heightened patrols and monitoring services in an effort to prevent possible anniversary attacks this upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Many Metro Rail riders have already noticed increased visibility of deputies, but much of the increased security will not be visible.

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"There is a plain clothed [patrol] presence you won't see," said Capt. Daniel Cruz. "We're going to maintain liaisons with federal and local authorities."

The heightened security includes high visibility patrols, plain clothed personnel, random baggage checks, use of canine patrols and the monitoring of terror threat levels.

The Sherriff's Department cannot comment on the exact timeframe the extra safety measures will be in place, however, they ask the public to remain watchful. "I would ask the public to assist us in reporting suspicious behavior," said Capt. Cruz.

Some reports have linked the heightened security with two stabbing incidents that took place on Gold Line and Red Line trains in August. However, according to Dave Sotero, Senior Public Communications Officer for Metro, the increased security is specifically aimed at preventing any potential 9/11 anniversary attacks.

Reut R. Cohen is a graduate student at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which has partnered with KCET-TV to produce this blog about policy in Los Angeles.


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It is sad to see that an agency rife with unwarranted secrecy, filled with gangs, an active resistance to having cameras in its cars and jails (like most every other major police agency in the U.S.), and a well-documented incompetence, remains a believable bulwark against terrorism.

Of course, we must not forget that foreign terrorists tend to pursue significant targets; wasting valuable resources against what Metro CEO Art Leahy labeled as "[Metro] customers – many of them poor and transit dependent..." in the LACMTA FY2010 budget (see "message from the CEO, page 7) is certainly foolish. It could be that maintaining such a transit system allows Leahy to continue increasing the monthly pay-out to his former USC buddy, sheriff Leroy Baca (they were in at least one class together in 1973). At present Metro pays the LASD more than $5 million monthly—and the only time LASD deputies seem to not be chasing down international terrorists on the trains is when they are punching mentally disabled women on Metro busses and then threatening veterans of recent wars against terrorists for daring to film such incidents.

Even Time Magazine recognized the futility of such agencies when in the 24 Nov 2010 edition David Von Drehle said what we all know: "That law enforcement is not a very effective way to stop hijackers." ("2000: A Nation Divided," page 36 / http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2032304_2032746_2032862,00.html ) Having lost a loved one on the 11 Sept 2001 attacks, and having dealt numerous times with LASD deputies who have claimed to be arresting and/or detaining me under the clearly questionable auspices of homeland security, I know all too well how ineffective is the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. in particular.

I have hundreds of incidents on video, recorded during a five-year period of not owning a car, living in downtown and daily riding the busses and the trains, armed only with two small cameras and far more knowledge than the LASD's Metro Division deputies cared for me to possess. The amount of resources wasted harassing me and anyone associated with TheBusBench.com was certainly considerable, and no doubt prompted Metro to launch their own blog to counter the alarming volume of evidence that was being uploaded daily. From LASD sheriffs blocking the narrow thoroughfares in the Blue/Green Line stairways, to allowing Metro busses to run stale red lights while deputies watched as they instead harassed would-be jaywalkers at Pershing Square, to lying about Metro policy regarding cameras and their usage on Metro property, to lounging around for hours at a time while acting thuggish towards anyone who dared look their way, to leaving their cars running with doors open and or unlocked while out of view for several minutes, to leaving weapons and ammunition unguarded in the open rear trunk of their vehicles, to wrongful arrest, to using Blue Line passengers as meat shields, to holding illegal searches on Metro trains, and more—it was all made available on TheBusBench.com.

I have occasionally taken the occasional bus or train since TheBusBench.com was taken off line, and even that once-a-month ride practically guarantees an opportunity to observe a LASD Metro deputy doing something stupid, unlawful or illegal. There is no doubt—and I remain in possession of thousands of hours of video footage to prove it—that if terrorists were to target Metro, the LASD would be as effective in stopping such an incident as a Metro fare gate is stopping fare-evaders.