FBN Update: Jeff Delinski, Department Chief Washington Metro Transit Police

Deputy Chief Delin­ski spoke to our com­mu­nity at the Feb 2008 FBA meet­ing regard­ing the chal­lenges faced by METRO police in the wake of the March 11, 2004 Cer­canías com­muter rail sys­tem bomb­ing in Madrid. FBN reached him last week for an update.

With a force of 450 offi­cers and 127 more per­sons that include spe­cial police, facil­ity head­quar­ter and busi­ness devel­op­ment staff within its oper­a­tion, Wash­ing­ton Metro Tran­sit Police (WMTP) ral­lied to respond to 59,000 calls received in 2010. Of course, this was in addi­tion to WMTP’S other respon­si­bil­i­ties such as com­par­ing notes with other urban tran­sit cen­ters, work­ing with the US Dept. of Home­land Secu­rity, and design­ing for and imple­ment­ing pre­ven­ta­tive safety mea­sures to our sys­tem. And then there’s the train­ing piece. Delinksi man­ages the rou­tine train­ing of emer­gency respon­ders and regional com­mu­nity meetings.

Attempt­ing to describe Delinski’s huge load, along with its sheer num­ber of mov­ing parts to be processed any given day, leads to noth­ing short of behold­ing the mythic fig­ure, Atlas, tasked with shoul­der­ing the earth. Just con­sider, WMTP offi­cers have juris­dic­tion and arrest pow­ers through­out the 1,500 square mile Tran­sit Zone—that includes Mary­land, Vir­ginia, and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia for crimes that occur in or against Tran­sit Author­ity facil­i­ties. This is the only tri­juris­dic­tional police agency in the coun­try and serves a pop­u­la­tion of 3.2 million.

The WMTP is nation­ally accred­ited through the Com­mis­sion on Accred­i­ta­tion for Law Enforce­ment Agen­cies, Inc. and offi­cer can­di­dates are trained to the stan­dards estab­lished for police in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Mary­land, and Vir­ginia. WMTP detec­tives are tasked with inves­ti­gat­ing open crimes and bring­ing them to clo­sure. Uni­formed and plain­clothes offi­cers ride Metrobuses at ran­dom and in areas where prob­lems have been reported, as well as patrol trains, sta­tion­sand park­ing lots.

Delin­ski is proud of the train­ing WMTP has facil­i­tated for the 2,000 met­ro­pol­i­tan emer­gency respon­ders, recruits and vol­un­teers. Among the train­ing seg­ments are: crowd con­trol, res­cue, right of way, safety fea­ture, rec­og­niz­ing haz­ards, and how to com­mu­ni­cate with the com­mand sys­tem cen­ter. He also is charged with “reg­u­lar” train­ing of the fire and EMT in Lan­dover, where they run sce­nar­ios with a mock-train.

At the 2008 FBA talk, Delin­ski reported on hear­ing a speech by the Sher­iff of LA County who, at that time, said that on any given day there were about 5,000 inci­dents of per­sons will­ing to do harm in the United States. While Delin­ski has not heard any update to that num­ber, he notes it’s enlight­en­ing to get a sense of what to be aware of. In fact, there are still ways to improve secu­rity. WMTP has recently begun to test a new pro­gram of ran­dom bagcheck­ing in var­i­ous METRO sta­tions. Delin­ski says no pro­gram is a sil­ver bul­let. But he believes in start­ing small and to keep expand­ing. This pro­gram is in its infancy and there always has to be bal­ance between secu­rity and cus­tomer con­ve­nience. The air­ports have seen marked suc­cess by this enforcement.

And yet, the scope of WMTP chal­lenges range from domes­tic and inter­na­tional ter­ror­ism to the local petty theft and trouble-making youth active on METRO dur­ing the week­ends. Eco­nomic fac­tors play into it. With the expan­sion of METRO wire­less ser­vice from one car­rier (Ver­i­zon) to a num­ber of car­ri­ers, Delin­ski said there was a huge spike in non-violent rob­beries like snatch and run. More peo­ple are using their cell­phones, I phones, and I-pads while in tran­sit and try­ing to be pro­duc­tive. The bad guys get into the sys­tem to steal. It’s an ongo­ing bat­tle and they’re hard to catch. They go where the police aren’t and are usu­ally indi­vid­u­als and kids. They may be in groups of eight to 10 after school gets out—or just out on weekends.

Delin­ski stresses how impor­tant the pub­lic role is in keep­ing our sys­tem safe. Pub­lic aware­ness and cred­i­ble cit­i­zen leads are “greatly appre­ci­ated.” A good exam­ple is a tourist with his fam­ily tak­ing pho­tos. That’s nor­mal. (See pre­vi­ous page.) But if you see some­one by him­self tak­ing pho­tos of the METRO entrances, the third rail, etc, that would be counted as sus­pi­cious behavior.

When­ever you see some­thing sus­pi­cious, call WMTP ‘s com­mand cen­ter immediately—not when you get home, not the next day. The num­ber is 202–962-2121—call any hour of the day, 7 days a week.

If you are feel­ing threat­ened or harassed on the trains, there are push but­ton inter­coms at
both ends of the cars. Note the car you are in before you push for help and speak with the train oper­a­tor who will then reach the com­mand cen­ter and metro police.

If you are alone in a METRO sta­tion and feel uncom­fort­able, push one of the but­ton inter­coms located on the columns. In sta­tions, you can also ask for assis­tance from the train super­vi­sors who can engage their two-way radios to reach the com­mand cen­ter. Addi­tion­ally, all METRO tran­sit work­ers—- the cus­to­di­ans, orange-vested workers—can be asked to con­tact the WMTP com­mand cen­ter on your behalf.

The best advice Delin­ski empha­sizes for indi­vid­u­als using any of the tran­sit sys­tems is to BE AWARE of your sur­round­ings. Stay in a lit place if you are in a sta­tion. If you feel the least bit uncom­fort­able, move to safety and don’t hes­i­tate to ask any of the METRO employ­ees to call the WMTP con­trol center.

To learn more about WMTP and/or read its safety and secu­rity tips, go to the Web­site: www.metroOpensDoors.com. WMTP Call Cen­ter num­ber is 202 962‑2121—call any hour of the day, 7 days a week.

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