Metro Considering Temporary Renewal of Sheriff’s Contract

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Recently, there have been a lot of discussion about the role of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in policing Metro rail lines.  Traditionally, it seems that the relationship between sheriff and blogger was that the sheriff’s would barely ever check tickets or provide a visible presence and for our part we would make fun of them.

However, recently that relationship has changed.  Maybe it was the Metro Board’s move to replace Sheriff’s with turnstiles.  Maybe it’s something else.  Ever since Bus Bench writer Randall "Bus Tard" Flemming was arrested and booked for filming in a public space to Keep Us Safe from Terrorists, the Sheriffs are being portrayed as overagressive enforcers of the law.

Feel these stereotypes are unfair?  Feel they’re the fairest portrayals in the world?  Well, Metro needs to vote on a proposal to extend their contract with the Sheriff’s Department at next week’s executive management committee meeting and at the Board meeting the following week.  It’s rare to have a chance to publicly weigh in on how our local Peace Officers are performing their jobs and behaving, but in the next two weeks, transit riders will have not one, but two chances.  The proposed contract would only extend the contract until March, because the current contract is set to expire at the end of the year and the Board hasn’t decided what to do about the contract considering that the need to check people’s tickets will go down once the turnstiles are in place.

Photo: Kingfal/Flickr

  • The Bus Bench will definitely be there. I personally would like to ask why on the Blue Line the Sheriffs during rushhour even in the morning harass the only black and brown commuters DAILY (at Compton Station and the Rosa Parks), but at night when it is less safe (at least in my lay person’s opinion) they sit in their cars and just stare at us. I’m pretty sure I could get murdered and they would only get out of their car if I used a piece of Metro’s furniture to defend myself.

    I bet if they did that on the Red Line in the Valley people would be screaming bloody murder if they had to wait any amount of time while Sheriffs check tickets at stations with only one way in and out.

    Oh and on the Red Line you know BusTard getting arrested for being annoying….

    Where are the Sheriffs when people get killed, robbed and other exciting adventures on the train. Why are we paying them so much money to make sure we bought a ticket, but not protect us.

    Browne

  • Alan Fishel

    I ride the Metro Rail lines regularly and have not had my “ticket” checked in months. But what I have seen is venders, homeless asking for money, noise kids and crazies talking to themselves loudly but never fare a inspector or a sheriff. The only time I saw a sheriff was at the 7th St Metro Center and Union Station in groups talking to each outer but not checking fares. No wonder crime is up and revenue is down with total lack of security on trains and at stations. At least with a bus you have the operator at the front of the bus.

    I don’t know the answer but, how does the MTA Board supervise the people who’s jobs it is to supervise and protect us, the hopefully the fare paying riders?

  • If you get off the Blue line to go to your home (or catch the bus) on the Blue Line at the Imperial stop or the Compton stop. You will have your ticket checked daily.

    I live in downtown. I had to do some business in Compton for a few weeks and I was amazed at how aggressive the Sheriffs are in regards to their treatment of people who paid their fare.

    I was also amazed one time when I went on the Red Line a few months back and at the MacArthur Park stop and the Sheriff and white shirts checked all of the brown and black people’s to make sure they had tickets and completely “forgot” to ask the one tall white guy with a fedora (my boyfriend) ticket.

    It makes me think the Sheriff are there for two reasons to collect fare and to harass a certain demographic of people, oddly the demographic that seems to be the majority of the people who are taking the trains.

  • This is nothing more than routine, because with the contract being renegotiated (and, according to a Metro staff report last month, with a lesser role for the Sheriff’s Department as non-law enforcement responsibilities shift to Metro’s own security personnel) there needs to be a short extension to the current contract.

    Browne and Randall’s anger notwithstanding, venting at the Metro Board at this point will gain nothing, because this extension is a necessary rubberstamp. If anything, the new contract being negotiated is likely to remedy any past flaws described, since tasks such as fare enforcement are those which will be shifted away from Sheriff’s personnel.

    Oh, and to directly rebut Browne’s comment about fare inspections, if carried out “in the Valley people would be screaming bloody murder if they had to wait any amount of time while Sheriffs check tickets at stations with only one way in and out” … it may interest her to know that intensive “check every passenger” sessions have been undertaken more often at North Hollywood Station than at any other. And there has been no complaint by the patrons, other than from the ones (of all colors) who didn’t have a pass or ticket.

    One such session at North Hollywood last year even involved the arrest of an individual who was wanted on a bench warrant for a previous crime, so I would say that such enforcement tactics have a positive additional benefit.

  • Kymberleigh,

    Have you gotten off on the Compton Blue Line Station? I have. I have gotten off and walked out of the Compton Blue Line Station. I have also gotten off on the Red Line Station at North Hollywood. I have gottten off on every station on the Red Line, on the majority of the stations on the Blue Line in LA. I am one of the rare people in LA who knows all parts of LA and there is a stark difference in regards to the experience and how you are treated by the Sheriffs on the Blue Line in comparison to the Red Line. Why do you think the Red Line is going late and the Blue Line is not?

    If anyone thinks I’m lying or being sensitive. Go down to the Compton Station on the Blue Line between 6-7am and get off the train and see what happens. Observe the Sheriff.

    The enforcement on the Blue Line is markedly different.

    Browne

  • Deputy Sheriff Lynch (yes his name is really Lynch) has been brought in to Expo meetings, not to keep people from fighting or whatnot but to act as their muscle.

    You see at each Expo Phase 1 community meeting – going back to November 2006 – they refuse to allow an open public comment forum. After they finish their presentation they tell people to ask their questions individually of staff members situated around the room. It’s a p.r. tactic – exclusive to the Expo project. Simply, it’s a lot harder to spin the issue when it’s before the entire room. MTA doesn’t do it on any other project.

    At one of the meetings, Sheriff Lynch was actually stalking me around the room – got it on tape. I’ve also got Expo “Community Representative” yelling at community resident and me on tape too. Seriously, the crap this agency would endure if this was ever even contemplated on Wilshire.

    When at one of the meetings people were requesting (rather calmly by the way) an open public forum of the Expo presenter, Sheriff Lynch interjected and said, “Folks that’s not the format. If you have questions ask them of people around the room.”

    Everyone knew what the format was. People were requesting one that, you know, shows respect for the community as opposed to disrespect, and here Sheriff Lynch – in full gear with his hand on his sidearm goes telling people what to do. He completely overstepped his boundaries, and he knows it.

    When I pointed out the intimidation factor and questioned why he was even at the Expo meetings in South LA; he actually said, that by preventing people from speaking out he was preventing people from violating the 1st Amendment.

    No that’s not a typo.

    Sigh.

    Nonetheless, I used to take Compton station (about a year ago) somewhat regularly and I do pass through Rosa Parks regularly. The overwhelming majority of times I’ve been fare checked have been at those two stations – Rosa Parks especially. At one point I rationalized that it was because Rosa Parks and Compton were busy stations. But then I realized I NEVER see a fare checker at 7th Street Metro.

    I’ve never been fare checked on the Gold line, and maybe just 3 times on the Green line, which is very low considering I take it 4-5 days out of the week. Half the time I see the fare checkers at Union Station they’re just sitting there, not actually requiring people to display their tickets, which is the exact opposite of Rosa Parks.

    And of all the stations to fare check people at Rosa Parks has to be the worst. It’s already terribly confined.

  • Marcotico

    Damien,

    I was at one of the “Community” meetings for the expo line crossings, and it was probably the worst run community input meetings i’d ever attended. Richard Thorpe presented the slides to the community, and couldn’t seem more disgusted with the assembled audience if he tried.

    Instead of an open mike he had people write their questions on cards. Then he read them out and answered them. The worst part of this was that if he couldn’t read the hand writing it made the questioner seem stupid, and more often than not the person whose question it was would have to yell it out anyways. No matter how contentious at least lets people feel like they got to express themselves.

    I couldn’t believe that they actually had an outreach coordinator for this! Later when I mentioned this to some people in Metro’s outreach dept, they kind of shook there heads and said they had nothing to do with it, and that the Expo JPA didn’t take their advice. That was why for so long I thought there was more seperation of powers there. But you said that really that is just a smoke screen.

    On a side note before that I went to a meeting for the Canoga extension of the Orange line, and it was a great meeting. Very professional, and the same thing with some meetings for the Subway to the sea. Sad, just plain sad.

  • Ahhhh…I remember that meeting. It was the meeting on the Farmdale alternatives. I believe it was the first meeting where Sheriff Lynch made his appearance.

    But that was a “good meeting” for the Expo Authority. They actually took questions!…albeit not directly. They did for the first time, in a long time answer questions publicly at an Expo community meeting.

    Expo is a subsidiary of MTA, completely funded by MTA. I’d guess that somewhere around 33-50% of the staff is MTA, including the CEO Rick Thorpe who is also the executive in charge of all capital projects at Metro.

    Now that the public has begun calling them out on their outright lies (Culver City streets qualified for grade separation under the policy, light rail is safer than cars, Expo is like the Gold Line, etc.) the PR people begin their presentations at many meetings with the statement that goes something like “We’re here just to talk about construction; we didn’t do the EIR. The EIR was approved by Metro, we’re Expo” as though there’s a great wall separating Expo and MTA, and they have no responsibility to answer questions about EIR deficiencies.

    So our neighborhood council had a meeting with Expo last week (video recorded some of it…YouTubing it soon) and I separately and without Expo’s knowledge invited David Meiger of Metro Planning.

    You should have seen how far the Expo Authority representative’s mouth dropped when, in response to their statement that planning questions be directed to Metro, I told them I invited David Mieger to the meeting as well to answer planning questions, and he declined, saying…then I read from the email:

    “Metro was the lead agency for the Expo Project prior to 2005 when the State Legislature transferred responsibility for the planning, design and construction to the Exposition Construction Authority. The conditions of the legislation state that when the construction of the line is completed, it will be transferred back to Metro for operation.

    “As such, Metro staff does not have a direct role in the planning, design and construction of the line. Questions about the environmental reports are now the responsibility of the Expo Construction Authority.”

    The ridiculous fricking games these jokers play.

  • Well I guess shabby treatment by Metro is routine south of the ten freeway.

  • I’m sure the state Legislature would be surprised to hear that the Expo Line Construction Authority is “a subsidiary of MTA”. The statement Damien quoted is legally correct and not a “ridiculous fricking game”.

    While it is true that the Expo Authority board chose to hire Rick Thorpe as their CEO, which means he now spends less time at Metro, I’d like you to prove your “guess” about the number of Metro employees who work for Expo.

    As I have said elsewhere, Damien, stop making up “facts” as you go. It doesn’t help your credibility.

  • I also want to answer Browne’s question separately:
    Why do you think the Red Line is going late and the Blue Line is not?

    Because the Red Line extended hours are being paid for by the businesses in downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood who want it to run later.

    Here, read Bernard Parks’ motion. No mention anywhere of any line other than the subway (although I did point out, during public comment, the fallacy of extending one line’s hours without doing likewise to the others):
    http://www.metro.net/board/Items/2008/09_September/20080925RBMItem52.pdf

    Perhaps, since the business owners paying for this are north of the 10, you could accuse them of racism. But on this one, don’t blame Metro for Parks’ shortsightedness or failure to listen to comments from those who understand the subject.

  • That’s your only comment Kym. That’s it. No comment on the treatment of the passengers on the Blue Line. Well you beat me. Red Line extended hours is being paid by business. Metro is fair. No racism or classism to see here. Me and Goodmon are just overly sensitve minority whiners.

    Browne

  • Kymberleigh:

    1) If you have ever seen the Expo staff chart, which I had to dig up myself, even though I requested it of Expo and Expo failed to send it, you’d know that there are so many Metro employees on it, that they are identified on the chart by a distinct color.

    2) It was Roger Snoble, you know – the CEO of MTA, who said at the Student Transportation Summit (or whatever it was called) at Trade Tech about 1 or 2 weeks ago that Expo is a “subsidiary.”

    Every dime is specifically given to them through Metro. Every major change in the project has to be first approved by Metro. If it’s not a subsidiary then what the heck would you call it? An agent?

    Seriously you’re basis for attacking my credibility is AT BEST predicated on fricking semantics?

    Kymberleigh, I think it’s clear to anyone that reads your posts that your primary if not sole objective in these comment pages is to find any possible excuse, regardless of how small, petty and unfounded to attack anyone that has anything critical to say about MTA.

    Attacking people for long posts, grammar, semantics, syntax, etc. it’s all just another way the cabal justifies failing to challenge MTA on any issue of importance. Everyone sees right through it.

    Just look at the other part of your post. You were so caught up in finding something en route to questioning my credibility, that you didn’t realize that in the post I was referencing the games Expo plays in failing to answer or even entertain questions about the EIR, and was using Meiger’s email as a supplement to my argument.

    Seriously, do some real advocacy. Pick up a planning journal and educate yourself. Read some TRBs or NTSB reports. Arguing about whether an authority that can’t take a pee without running it through MTA and is completely funded through MTA is a “subsidiary” or not is more a reflection on you than those you seek to demonize.

    Browne:

    As I’m sure you are well aware, any mention of racism is guaranteed to illicit negative reactions. Racism in part are practices that benefit a certain group to the detriment of others. Some people don’t like to think that something others can’t control (their race) puts minorities at a disadvantage that directly and indirectly benefits white people. That’s the crux of why many (almost all of whom are Caucasian) have such a heightened reaction to any attempt to discuss racism, and believe that any claim of racism that doesn’t involve white capes and burning crosses is “using the race card.”

    This whole discussion is just naturally sickening to me, not because I’m that passionate about it – I can discuss it civilly like I can most other controversial issues. Rather I know the other side lacks a similar capacity to discuss the issue civilly without saying things that are prejudice, racist, and in many respects just plain stupid.

  • Linda Wei

    damien, the other side that you refer to is engaging in the same kind of blindness towards our community concerns and needs that Ralph Ellison writes about in Invisible Man. there are many kinds of insanity in the world and not being able to actually hear, see, understand, and address people and their ideas directly is one of them. that kind of insanity is what makes me the sickest of all.

    it’s just constant deflection. i don’t know what’s wrong with them but they are insane.

    Linda Wei

  • Damien,

    You are unstoppable man. I don’t think that pushing the Expo Line above or below grade is the best idea – but I’d work towards that too if I’d had my neighbors and community treated as poorly as yours has been.

    It is funny how the transit advocates are sometimes like Robert Moses in a nerd’s clothing. I’ve found that when you just go and read the laws, org charts, and policies that relate to an issue everything becomes very clear – and these sorts of people can sometimes be exposed for the “screw ’em, let’s do this!” Moses-types that they are.

    It’s like a kid that has been bullied in school, but deeply wants to be the bully.