To combat crime on the Central Light Rail Line, the state Mass Transit Administration announced last night that MTA police officers will ride trains every day, and local police from Baltimore and from Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties will be stationed at most of the light rail stops.
Bernard B. Foster Sr., chief of the MTA police, said officers began riding the light rail trains yesterday and that local police in the city and two counties will be stationed at stations beginning Friday.
"Every train will have an MTA police officer on it," Chief Foster said.
The announcement came at a meeting of the Lutherville Community Association at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on Kurtz Avenue. About 75 Lutherville residents, concerned about crime on the trains and about criminals taking the trains to their neighborhood, listened as Chief Foster outlined the plan.
Chief Foster said he didn't know how much it was going to cost to station local police officers at the light rail stops from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m., but he said the MTA is footing the bill.
County police Capt. John T. Gaither Jr., commander of the Cockeysville precinct, said the local officers will work the light rail stops in uniform, but on their own time. They will be paid by the MTA, he said.
Residents in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties who live near light rail stops have complained in recent months of an increase in crime in their neighborhoods that they blame on light rail and crime on the trains.
"There's a tremendous amount of crime that's come into the area," said Deborah Nesbitt, a member of the Lutherville Community Association. "And we think a lot of it's attributable to light rail."
In April, a 24-year-old Ellicott City woman was stabbed as she waited for a train at the Linthicum stop in Anne Arundel.
In Lutherville, Captain Gaither said, there has been a 237 percent increase in shoplifting since light rail began operating just over two years ago. Other crimes also have increased, he said, but police are not sure light rail is to blame. Ms. Nesbitt said bicycles and other items have been stolen from many Lutherville residents.
"Apparently," she said, "what they do is, they hide in the woods and when they hear the train, they come out and get on the train."
Chief Foster said MTA officers on the trains will be unable to move from car to car but that there are intercoms in each car that riders can use to call for help.