Light rail security is heightened

MTA, city police dispatch dogs and officers to patrol stations after spate of crimes

November 16, 2006|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,Sun reporter

Security has been stepped up on the Baltimore region's light rail system as authorities investigate a spate of violence on the transit line in recent weeks.

Since early this month, assailants have targeted light rail passengers in the city in four robberies. In one case, a group assault led to the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old girl. After a robbery Saturday night, a Maryland Transit Administration police officer fatally shot one of three suspects.

Lt. Col. John Gavrilis, deputy chief of the Maryland Transit Administration police, said officers are working closely with Baltimore police to bolster security at the stations. Additional MTA uniformed and undercover officers, as well as police dogs, are patrolling, some on overtime shifts, he said.

Gavrilis said the light rail system, which stretches from Anne Arundel County to Baltimore County, had recorded 54 serious crimes during the first six months of this year -- mostly car break-ins and cars stolen from parking lots.

"This is an anomaly for us," Gavrilis said about the recent crimes.

MTA police provide security for the state-run light rail and its stations, while crimes that occur off the properties are investigated by local jurisdictions.

The death of Nicole Edmonds, 17, who was stabbed Nov. 7 after four people followed her and her brother off the train at a central Baltimore station, is being investigated by city police. Police said the assailants encountered the brother and sister while they were on light rail but did not attack them until after they had walked off the station property. No arrest has been made.

Beginning early next year, MTA police are expected to start rolling out an advanced network of cameras that will watch the light rail and MARC commuter trains, and their stations. Construction of a "watch center" at a Northwest Baltimore location -- where MTA police will monitor the camera network -- has begun, Gavrilis said.

The light rail cars have surveillance cameras on them, he said.

Police also are targeting problem areas.

On Saturday night, undercover officers staked out the Reisterstown Road Plaza Metro Station, believing that it was a likely target, Gavrilis said. Within two hours, detectives saw a man rob another man of his bus pass.

An MTA officer chased the man onto the tracks, and police officials said the man pulled out a gun and pointed it at the officer. The officer fatally shot the man, who was identified yesterday by Baltimore police as Jeffrey Marrow, 23, of the 1300 block of Hollins St. in Southwest Baltimore.

Gavrilis declined yesterday to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting. The officer is on administrative duty pending the completion of an investigation.

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