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Current Issues & Challenges in Rail Security


The American Public Transportation Association’s Rail Conference was held June 3-6 in Dallas, Texas. The session “Current Issues and Challenges in Rail Security” provided an interactive session with an opportunity to find out who’s experiencing similar challenges and what some of the practices are to address these common issues.

Electronic Device Theft ♦ Metro Transit Police Department

Metro Transit Police Deputy Chief Leslie Campbell talked about the challenge of personal electronic device theft. He mentioned that sales on the black market are a major cause to the interest in these types of theft.
Over the past year they have seen a 24 percent decrease in these thefts by utilizing a number of strategies. “Metrostat” was created by the Metro Transit Police to identify crime trends and target areas which allows them to deploy staff and resources more effectively. Using the Metrostat information, patrol commanders establish crime reduction objectives for their districts and can better address the needs.
The department also uses focused patrols, public awareness campaigns about “protecting your property,” high-intensity public enforcement and a crime suppression team. At the session, Deputy Chief Campbell showed a video of the crime suppression team in action.
The introduction of H.R. 4247: Cell Phone Theft Prevention Act of 2012 was to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit the mobile service providers from providing service on mobile electronic devices that have been reported stolen and to require such providers to give consumers the ability to remotely delete data from such devices. In March of this year, the bill was assigned to a congressional committee, which will consider it before possibly sending it to the House or Senate. Going along with the introduction of this bill was a big media event to raise the awareness.

Graffiti & Tagging and Metal Theft ♦ Los Angeles County Sheriff Department

Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Holly Perez talked about graffiti and tagging as an issue they are facing. The Tracking Automated and Graffiti Reporting System (TAGRS) is used to store and track incidents. It is a free shared database in their area for law enforcement to help identify and prosecute graffiti suspects.
Perez said they have formed a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as many taggers are still in school. Another avenue that has been helpful is social media. Sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and other social sites are often where they find pictures of “work” done to identify people.
The other challenge Perez discussed was metal theft, and in particular, copper wire theft.
Another issue is the copper wire theft and metal theft, in general. They have been utilizing intelligence-led policing (ILP), a business model where data analysis and crime intelligence are used for objective, decision-making to create effective enforcement strategies targeting serious offenders. There are also detective case load issues they’re experiencing, Perez said.

Working with Mentally Ill ♦ Bay Area Rapid Transit District Transit Police

Chief of Transit Police Kenton Rainey talked about woking with the mentally ill by utilizing a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), or the “Memphis Model.” In 1988, the Memphis Police Department partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness(NAMI), mental health providers and two local universities to organize, train and implement a specialized unit to develop a safer approach for mental crisis events.
A transit system creates a shelter from the environment so it is a “welcoming” place for homeless people and the self-medicated homeless, Chief Rainey explained. California Penal Code 647F, also known as a “drunk and disorderly,” makes it a misdemeanor for someone to be under the influence in a public place and unable to care for his or her own safety or obstructs others to the use of public ways.
BART transit police have implemented the use of body cameras, have a mental health outreach worker and they have worked NAMI. Chief Rainey suggested to attendees that they network with them, as well.
He said they have had a decrease in the use of force, have seen cost savings and their officers are better trained for verbal de-escalation. You can read more on Chief Kenton Rainey and the BART Transit Police here.

Courtesy of Mass Transit Mag

Thomson Reuters Corp : IACP Honors Texas Detectives for Solving Murders with Combination of Old-School Police Work, New Technology

IACP Honors Texas Detectives for Solving Murders with Combination of Old-School Police Work, New Technology

Award sponsored by Thomson Reuters recognizes innovation and excellence in criminal investigations

EAGAN, Minn., Oct. 25, 2011 - Using a combination of investigative technology and old-fashioned police work, detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the College Station Police Department in Texas were able to solve three capital murder cases in 2010, apprehending the suspect in each case within 14 hours after the crime was committed. Their success in the pursuit of justice has made them the recipient of the 2011 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations.

The award is sponsored by the Risk, Fraud and Investigations business of Thomson Reuters, whose solutions include CLEAR, a powerful public and proprietary records platform that helps thousands of law enforcement and government agencies find essential information on people and businesses.

"Despite being chronically understaffed and having a caseload that exceeded 1,900 in 2010, the detectives in College Station pursued these cases with dogged persistence, using the new technology procured by their department in tandem with solid, exhaustive police work," said Chief Mark A. Marshall, IACP president. "When faced with challenges, such as how to preserve a crime scene that needed to be transported over a long distance, these detectives proved why they're the best of the best in investigative innovation. IACP is proud to recognize the College Station, Texas, Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division for its industry-leading example of law enforcement excellence."

Tasked with solving three grisly murders, the College Station CID used time-honored detective work like canvassing neighborhoods and interviewing witnesses right alongside state-of-the-art technology such as video enhancement equipment and a device that allows investigators to capture images of microscopic evidence, both of which are compatible with iPads and iPhones that are carried by officers across the department.

In one particular case, officers were tasked with having to move a vehicle, which was part of a crime scene and full of important evidence, back to College Station for processing from where it had been recovered. The distance equated to about four hours of travel time. Concerned that vital evidence would be contaminated or destroyed in transit, the officers decided to shrink-wrap the vehicle to protect it from the elements. This novel idea was successful and evidence later recovered from the vehicle proved to be vital to the case.

"The Criminal Investigative Division of the College Station, Texas, Police Department showed remarkable ingenuity in the ways in which they merged traditional investigative tactics with technological devices which had only recently become available to them," said Steve Rubley, vice president and general manager, Risk and Fraud, Thomson Reuters. "Their quick thinking and creative problem-solving skills enabled them to use every resource at hand to make sure no stone went unturned in the task of bringing murderers to justice and restoring a sense of safety within their community. The Thomson Reuters Risk, Fraud & Investigations business is thrilled to partner with the IACP in lauding such innovation and excellence. The outstanding investigatory techniques modeled by the department in College Station can serve as a model for law enforcement agencies across the nation."

The first runner-up, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations division in Washington, D.C., was honored for conducting a campaign to seize Internet domain names used for selling counterfeit goods. From June 2010 through March 2011, this effort, which occurred in four separate phases, resulted in the seizure or freezing of 169 domain names, as well as the seizure of 16 bank, advertising and brokerage accounts. In addition, a large amount of pirated movies, music, sporting event and television show content was seized as well.

The second runner-up, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Special Problems Unit, Transit Services Bureau, was recognized for fighting graffiti and vandalism throughout Los Angeles County by deploying several novel investigative tactics, among them the database TAGRS, or Tracking and Automated Graffiti Reporting System, which is the first of its kind. These efforts led to a total of 183 felony and 173 misdemeanor arrests in 2010.

The IACP Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations is given to a law enforcement agency, law enforcement unit, task force or inter-agency task force in recognition of exceptional innovation and excellence in the area of criminal investigations. Judging focuses on contributions to the advancement of the art or science of criminal investigations, and innovations in the development or enhancement of investigative techniques. Learn more at

Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.  We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization.  With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs more than 55,000 people and operates in over 100 countries.  For more information, go to

The International Association of Chiefs of Police is the world's oldest and largest nonprofit membership organizations of police executives, with nearly 20,000 members in 100 countries. The IACP's leadership consists of the operating chief executives of international, federal, state and local agencies of all


Megan Gustafson
Thomson Reuters


Inland Empire Law enforcement using new tools to go after graffiti perpetrators

Victor Ibarra, with the Fontana City Graffiti Maintenance Crew, takes photographs of graffiti Tuesday on Cypress Avenue across from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana. (LaFonzo Carter Staff Photographer)

With new computer software and new ordinances, area law enforcement agencies are swooping down on those who deface property with graffiti.

Computer brain power is being harnessed to look for patterns in graffiti and link criminal acts in one jurisdiction with those miles away.

Laws are being strengthened to prohibit minors from possessing graffiti-making items - such as aerosol paint cans and etching tools - unless in a classroom setting or under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian.

More agencies are allocating more investigators to graffiti cases, and they are devoting more hours to identifying and tracking down graffiti perpetrators.

One of the most promising of the new tools is a sophisticated

San Bernardino county Sheriff's deputies, Joseph Parker, left and Oscar Godoy, discuss the deparment computer program that is used to track graffitti. (Rick Sforza/Staff Photographer)
software package developed by the Orange County Sheriff's Department that is being widely adopted in the Southland.

For officers in San Bernardino County and elsewhere, it means digital photographs of vandalism at a site in one city can be electronically linked to photographs taken at graffiti crime scenes around the Southland.

If the computer recognizes a pattern, law enforcement officials are on their way to building a much larger legal case.

Instead of charging someone with one or two acts of vandalism, the system allows cases to be built that can include dozens and dozens of crimes, officials say.

"We are looking to make that first strike," said San Bernardino County sheriff's Deputy Oscar Godoy, who is assigned to a gang unit in the department's Rancho Cucamonga station and uses Orange County's TAGRS computer software.

Godoy was referring to the first marker for the California "Three Strikes" Law, which means that people convicted of three felonies may end up facing life in prison.

Godoy and his partner, Deputy Joseph Parker, work closely with school resource officers to identify taggers.

An early step in the process is finding the moniker or signature of the perpetrator hidden inside the graffiti.

"You have to learn how to read them....It takes awhile," Godoy said. "You have to learn to think like they do."

Young perpetrators frequently carry their moniker on their school notebooks - or have their art, with its telltale signature, plastered across the walls in their bedroom at home, Parker said.

"With that evidence, it's pretty hard for them to deny the graffiti is theirs," Parker said.

The Orange County TAGRS software has 30 agencies on its system, including the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, San Bernardino Police Department and the Rialto Police Department, said John McDonald, an Orange County sheriff's spokesman.

For the city of San Bernardino, recently joining the free TAGRS system will mean a savings of $160,000 annually while Rialto will save $70,000 from what it previously had been paying an outside vendor, officials say.

Agencies across the Southland are aggressively working to recoup the cost of removing graffiti.

While assigned to the Rialto Police Department's gang unit, Officer John Candias, now a homicide detective, developed a formula for calculating the cost of removing graffiti.

And the result was that very few cases won't be a felony, based on the cost of driving a truck to the scene and the time and materials used to remove the markings.

For the Rialto Police Department, and several others contacted for this report, a digital camera automatically calculates the square footage of the markings, date and time stamps the photo, and provides coordinates to be plugged into a geographic mapping system.

Generally, a city public works crew, or a team from an outside agency contracted by a city, arrives at the graffiti site, documents what has transpired with this sophisticated camera and covers it up with paint, often after painstakingly matching the new cover-up paint with the existing color.

The photograph electronically travels to the investigative team working graffiti cases.

On the TAGRS software, the city crew member who dealt with that graffiti is listed, so that an officer can follow up to get more information if necessary, Parker said.

Southland law enforcement agencies are working to hold the culprits, and in the case of minors, their parents, responsible for damages.

Graffiti perpetrators are from two camps: gang members who use it to mark their territory or send a message to other gangs, and taggers who do the crime for glory.

For taggers, "the entire reason is for personal fame....It's all about ego," said San Bernardino police Sgt. Dwight Waldo.

"It's the only crime I know of where the entire purpose is to tell the world I did this crime," said Waldo, who has been working to catch taggers exclusively since 1991 and was the first in the country to have that assignment.

In most departments taggers are part of the gang unit's function, even though taggers, by definition, are not part of a criminal gang - and may never be.

Although an oddity a decade ago, Waldo said more municipal police departments are dedicating officers just to tagging as a way to preserve city tax revenues.

When taggers strike a business district, about 90percent of the public will think it's a sign of gang activity, said Waldo, internationally recognized expert on tagging.

And when the public enters that area, instead of focusing on what they might do there, they worry about their personal safety or the safety of their vehicle, he said.

Soon businesses will flee the area, said Waldo, who was in New Mexico last week to speak before a regional law enforcement group about tagging.

Waldo said that while most taggers are underage, predominately male, increasingly he is finding more in their 20s and 30s. The oldest person arrested was 50.

The vast majority of graffiti is called "throw ups," which are not artsy, Waldo said.

Taggers can put up their work - even complex "art" works very quickly, Waldo said, because they practice what they will do several times. They have all their supplies and plan escape routes in case police show up.

Taggers pick high visibility sites for their attacks so many people will see it. And when they are caught by police, they attain a martyrdom in their circle of fellow taggers, Waldo said.

Tagging is a problem not unique to the United States, he said. On the Internet, Waldo once saw an advertisement for a train taking taggers on a 10-day tour of major European cities.

Although much of tagging vandalism is done in the wee hours, it's not uncommon for graffiti to go up after school - between 3 and 8 p.m.

Waldo said it is not uncommon for tagging crews to move into burglary because they see the skill set that allows them to put up graffiti unseen translates into the stealth skills needed to enter a building and get away undetected.

Police contacted for this report generally view tagging as a "gateway" crime, one that often leads to more serious offenses.

Chino police Lt. Wes Simmons said his department has been treating graffiti as a key enforcement issue for many years.

"Our philosophy is that we see this as a crime which negatively impacts our community," he said.

Aggressive prosecution and pursuit of restitution for the cleanup costs may be showing up in the numbers, Simmons said.

In 2009, 343 police reports were filed for graffiti in Chino, 202 arrests were made and 194,000 square feet of graffiti was cleaned up.

In 2010, those numbers had come down to 224 reports, 118 arrests and abatement of less than 100,000 square feet.

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