Nations Defends Security Guards on MetroLink

Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – MetroLink’s top executive is denying allegations he’s trying to make police officers out of his security guards, in violation of state law.

John Nations, the President and CEO of Bi-State Development, which runs MetroLink, says he’s not empowering light rail security guards to act as police.

“As we have been saying since the beginning, we are not trying to start our own police force,” Nations said. “That charge is completely invalid. My board has never authorized that. We have never gone down that road. We have responded to this repeatedly over the years.”

Nations was responding to new allegations in two separate letters — from the St. Louis County prosecutor and from the head of the Missouri Department of Public Safety — that he is, in fact, going too far with his security guards.

Laclede's Landing MetroLink station

(Photo via mtram.mashke.org/Yury Maller)

The letters noted that MetroLink guards carry ID cards saying they are “commissioned as a law enforcement officer,” and that the guards wear uniforms too similar to county police.

Nations was asked his response to a letter dated April 20 from County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch warning he’s prepared to charge MetroLink security guards with “impersonating a law enforcement officer.”

“Well, our people are out there, working within their authority to make the system safe,” Nations said. “We actually changed our uniforms several years ago at the request of St. Louis County — that’s how they got changed — and now, they want us to change them again.”

Nations also suggested McCulloch should help more with crime on the light rail line, by charging people given citations for riding without a ticket.

“I mean, if you don’t prosecute the perpetrator, it makes sense you’re gonna have a problem. That’s something Mr. McCulloch has to answer for. He came out last week and said he would no longer prosecute fare evaders on the system.”

KMOX contacted McCulloch earlier this week and asked about his decision.

“Bi-State makes little effort to limit access,” McCulloch said. “As long as they’re on an honor system, I can’t issue charges, because Bi-State is not keeping people off.”

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