ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Political leaders are scheduled to have another meeting Wednesday about making the region’s light rail system safer. And there could be some tension at the table.
Through a Sunshine request, KMOX has obtained a copy of two sizzling letters sent from then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar to MetroLink in fall 2015. There was also a response back to them from the head of MetroLink security.
Belmar and Dotson claimed their departments have authority over Metro security, and the light rail security officers should stop using police dogs and acting as if they had full police powers.
“Metro public safety officers have failed to notify or disregarded police in instances of, but not limited to, a sexual misconduct, a theft and an assault,” the chiefs said in the letter. “The practices of internal reporting of crimes, selective dispatching and a general atmosphere of uncooperativeness with our agencies must cease immediately.”
They also said the Metro Public Safety Department receives their authority to perform security functions from the police departments.
Metro Security Chief Richard Zott turns the tables in his response, accusing police of failing to live up to their contractual obligations to ride the trains, and slow response times.
Zott complains that MetroLink ridership was down and the system was losing millions of dollars because passengers were afraid to ride.
“I continue to be concerned without contracted police unit adherence to contract requirements, including the goal of having officers ride the trains 80 percent of their time on the contract,” Zott said in his response. “I continue to believe that if the officers were actually on the vehicles that the incident of crime would be further reduced and that our combined response times to customers or each other would be improved.”
Zott argues that MetroLink security is not exceeding its authority, and that it has powers under its original Compact approved by Congress to police the light rail lines.