Increased MetroLink Incidents Prompt Serious Security Discussions

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – After two killings on MetroLink trains in the last two weeks, there’s word of another incident at a Metro station, this time in Fairview Heights.

Witnesses say that on Wednesday morning, 38-year-old Jeremiah McGee punched an unarmed security officer who was escorting him off a bus after McGee had intentionally stepped on the feet of several fellow passengers.

Also this week, the St. Louis County prosecutor filed a murder charge against an 18-year-old suspect in the shooting death of a passenger on the MetroLink near the UMSL stop.

Dijon Oates is accused of killing 22-year-old Jesse Boone, after an argument around 11:15 Wednesday night on the train.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger says MetroLink security needs to modernize.

“It’s a lack of 21st century equipment, such as facial recognition and other types of modern equipment that would basically limit accessibility to the line to those with tickets and would be able to eliminate individuals who seek to cause trouble,” he says.

Stenger is calling a summit on MetroLink safety in his office next week with incoming city mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Claire County Board Chairman Mark Kern to discuss the next steps for MetroLink.

MetroLink ridership has fallen 15 percent over the last few years, in part, says top executive John Nations, because of security fears among the public.

Nations says he’s eager to see improvements to tighten security.

“Going forward here in the next few months as we go through the testing phase, you’re going to have to go through a type of a gate where you’re going to have to tap a card, and the lights are going to go off and tell us whether you have a fare or an invalid fare. We’re also looking at whether or not it’s feasible to convert the system to a turnstile system,” he says.

Nations says he’s also open to metal detectors and facial recognition cameras, but all of this will cost money.

He estimates it could cost $200 million to make MetroLink really secure.

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