SEPTA increasing subway security

April 7, 2008 3:35:47 PM PDT
SEPTA is beefing up security following three recent attacks, including one deadly incident. The efforts include increased patrols by the SEPTA Transit Police Department, a review by SEPTA's Board of Directors to permanently increase the size of its police force and the advanced installation of its "Smart Stations" project to further safeguard SEPTA stations and facilities.

Beginning today, approximately 30 SEPTA Transit Police Officers will voluntarily work longer shifts, during the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. This action will be in effect throughout the remainder of the school year.

SEPTA Board member Christian DiCiccio today also announced his intention to work with other members of SEPTA's Board of Directors to explore the possibility of recruiting approximately 50 more transit police officers.

SEPTA will also examine ways to accelerate the installation of its Smart Stations project. Part of SEPTA's Smart Stations project addresses public security through the addition of surveillance cameras, improved emergency lighting, expanded alarm systems and emergency telephones. The Smart Stations project will include the Market-Frankford, Broad Street Subway and Subway/Surface Line stations.

The push for more security comes after 3 attacks on or near Philadelphia's subway system. In the latest, a man was beaten by three men on a train near 15th and Market Friday night. Last Wednesday a woman had her teeth knocked out by a gang of 12 on a platform at 8th and Market at the Gallery. A week before that, a Starbucks manager died after being assaulted by a gang of teens on the concourse at 13th and Market.

Over the weekend, Mayor Nutter said, "We're taking special note of what's going on and adding protection. Police Commissioner Ramsey is working with police on a regular basis, and I think folks will see a big difference in the course of the next week."

The return of Philadelphia Police to the subway cannot come soon enough as far as many commuters are concerned. Though, some commuters think it's going to take a lot more to stem the tide of subway attacks.

In addition to the extra police presence, the Fraternal Order of Police would like to see the return of the Philadelphia Police transit unit disbanded four years ago. As shown in an Action News special report from the late 1980's, the unit was highly successful combating crime by using officers as decoys dressed as vulnerable victims to draw out criminals.

Bobby Eddis of the Philadelphia FOP tells Action News, "We at one time had over 200 officers down there because that's how significant this was in the past. We've gone through this pain before, and once again, unfortunately history's repeating itself, and we can't allow that to happen."