SEPTA Debuts New Transit Police Unit - KMSP-TV

SEPTA Debuts New Transit Police Unit

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PHILADELPHIA -

A new unit with the SEPTA Transit Police hit the streets today. The unit will put officers in places where they think crimes will be committed before they happen. Hotspots include on the buses, rails, and subways.

Crime on SEPTA is a reality for riders.

"I've been robbed before on the L," says Maura Stein of Northeast Philadelphia.

"I don't ride at night. Too much stuff be happening," says Nathaniel Williams of North Philadelphia.

But SEPTA is taking a new step to crack down on transit crime, putting cops where they think crimes will be committed. The anti-crime unit is made up of 26 officers. They're focus: policing different hot zones that change daily. These are places with upticks of crimes in a short amount of time.

"If there's a problem in a certain area. And the next day we'll target the problem in the next area," says Lt. Nichole Lawson of SEPTA Transit Police.

Police, some uniformed, most undercover, may be on a bus in North Philly one day, and then the subway the next.

In it's inaugural patrol, SEPTA police concentrated on the Route 3 bus in North Philadelphia. On Friday and Saturday, there were numerous reports of fare jumpers and cell phone thefts. Today, uniformed and undercover cops rode the route all day, targeting criminals.

"The officers usually stay in their zones and target problems they have and if they need assistance we can help them," says Lt. Lawson.

Most passengers we spoke with are happy to see police concentrating on areas of higher crime.

"I guess having a lot of police in the area is a good thing. But I think if they come after the fact may be too late," says a passenger.

SEPTA says crime statistics show if a crime happens today. chances are it will happen again in the same area.

"We're here. You might not see us in uniform but we're here in plain clothes," says Lt. Lawson. "If you want to commit a crime you are going to get caught."

After one day in operation, SEPTA tells me their unit already made arrests. In fact, five were made in the first hour alone.

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