Dangers on a Train: Crime Goes Down Everywhere Except on DART

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
Wait a minute. The Dallas Morning News today publishes a story in which the top cop in the local transit agency gets away with blaming the economy and too much bling for a sharp increase in robberies and other crimes on the light rail system.

Did anybody think to point out to DART police Chief James Spiller that the same economy is producing a record drop in crime rates for the city at large? Hmm? Would have been something interesting to ask.

Maybe some extra-intrepid reporter could have asked Spiller if he is familiar with about 20 years of criminological/sociological research showing that crime is not a response to economic instability.

People don't say, "Normally I'm a barber, but lately times have gotten so tough that I've switched to carjacking." The same people carjack in good times and bad, because the same people like carjacking.

But here's the part of The News story that really stabbed me in the heart:

In addition, the Green Line's opening last December introduced new riders who aren't used to mass transit, creating new opportunities for criminals, he [Spiller] said. Thieves and robbers have been looking for high-value items that are easy to grab and easy to sell, he said.
It's our fault. Here we are thinking we can parade around in public using cell phones and tablet computers, when we should realize that such behavior is suicide by iPad.

Taken to its logical extension, this line of reasoning says, "Don't come on our train talking on your smartphone like Mr. Big Shot and then start bitching later when you get stabbed in the eyeball for it."

Last March, Robert Wilonsky posted that home movie you see above made by DART warning people not to cause robberies of themselves by leaving valuable objects "loosely lying around." But the movie opens with a scene in which a lady gets her cell phone snatched while she's talking on it.

I don't consider talking on my cell phone the same as leaving it loosely lying around. In fact, if I can't talk on my cell phone when I want to, I do not want to have a cell phone.

Made me think: An even more useful bad home movie from DART might be an instructional film on how to duct-tape your cell phone to your head before getting on a DART train. They could show a lot of school kids with their backpacks properly chained and locked to their wrists.

I wasted a bunch of time this morning drilling through DART's financials on their web page trying to find out what they spend on cops. They have the cop number lumped in with other unlikely expenditures like real estate. The only hard number I could find was the total size of the force: 373.

If we take what I think is a very conservative estimate for the cost of those employees annually, at about 50 grand a year apiece, then we would come out with an annual police personnel cost of about $18.6 million. I have a question in to DART's public relations people to see if they can come up with a better number for me.

But meanwhile, what about this? If crime on DART trains is soaring, as Spiller reports, while rate are falling citywide, what if we consider the possibility that we need a new chief of police at DART?

Or even better: Abolish the DART police department and turn enforcement over to the Dallas Police Department, which has crime rates on the run.

But that wouldn't work, because the real purpose of the DART police department is to show up when a DART bus rams your car in the rear-end and write a report saying it was your fault for failure to defensively accelerate while driving a fancy car.


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
105 comments
dmdallas
dmdallas

I had a friend who had money taken out of her opened bag by a "friendly" rider.Needless to say that she should have been more careful but still could people stop taking other people's stuff?

Frog
Frog

Why is there no mention on the news or DART website about the suicide last Friday morning?  I'm very disappointed in the local Dallas news reporters.

YoHomey
YoHomey

Looks like it is getting difficult for the Observer's white-guilt libtard "journalists" to continue ignoring reality!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Exactly. DART is no different than any other public transportation. Be smart, be alert, mind your own business. I've felt perfectly safe on Denver's light rail, Chicago's subway/el, BART rolling through Oakland, and London's underground. That's not to say DART doesn't need to maintain a strong police presence, and I question why they went with what is basically an honor system on ticketing versus just about every other mass transit system's gates with scanners, but just using common sense will work for 99.9% of all riders.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Once, when riding the NYC Subway into Queens, a lady asked me where I was from. I asked her how she knew I was not from NYC--and she said, "You were smiling and being polite to everyone." She told me that it could make me a target for the thieves who roamed the transit authority looking for out-of-towners. It was 2002-2003. So, there you go. I also don't wear $10,000 rings to Northpark. I also don't leave my front door wide open at home when I am at work. it is not blaming the victim as much as making the point to be proactive as a rider.  His (DART guy) words were badly chosen, but when you have a new surge in ridership--and it  has  happened before, you will get a surge in crime. Whenever you have large groups of people, criminals will come a knockin'...Maybe he should have said, "We see an increase in recent crime. Here are some tips to consider when riding, and here is how we are addressing the problem."

All the comments about NOT seeing a cop on board are QUITE valid, and that should be addressed. A follow-up by Jim S. to the BOARD of DART would be nice. What are THEY saying about it?

Anonymous
Anonymous

I see lots of stuff going on. There are people switching between cars constantly when the train stop at stations. I believe there are several reasons for this, one they are dealing drugs on the trains, two they have spotted other gang members riding the same car, three they avoiding the fare enforcement officer, four someone threw up and the car sinks. Five there is some crazy guy talking loud and intimidating. There are people who want your fare ticket at the end of the line so they can try to resale it, sometimes they intimidate people to get their ticket. Lots of fights with the high school kids on the trains when they get out of school. If you leave something on the train 2 out of 3 times it will be gone by the next station. I believe why the trains are hit on by the criminals is because they know that the Dart police are slow to respond. When something goes down it may take 15 to 20 minutes for the Dart police to catch up to the train, by then the thief is long gone. If something bad goes downthe best thing is to call Dallas police first.

Hulon Pate
Hulon Pate

West End Station is pretty bad. Dudes Selling smokes and ??????, and people just hanging out. I have posted and posted for Dart to get rid of the hoodlums and people smoking there because It is supposed to be Dart/City of Dallas properties.        Dart cops need to make more of a presence.  Just sitting at the Stops like the A.A. Center is not doing anything to protect anyone. They need to be moving people out, who are just hanging out in the city on Dart Train property.  Too many people riding nights & weekend for free as well.     Dart Cops need to step it up at Train Stations.  I would suggest plain clothes officers riding Dart Trains & buses more often to maintain order .

On the Flip side, people who do customer service for Dart like  Mr. Stephen Hlubik are outstanding. With his plain speaking  and easy to understand directions and information on bus & train schedules, when you call Dart.

Badmonkey
Badmonkey

Listen, the police have always been reactionary driven; expecting them to be everywhere to prevent crimes is illogical and unreasonable. Yes, they should be as visible as possible, but the responsibility is shared with us. Protect yourself, whether you're on a dart train or at northpark. And stop blaming the cops for everything. 

cp
cp

Are you serious? Referring to a 27 year-old case in NYC? 

ChrisU
ChrisU

the four year old doesn't seem to have any issues with our transit system.

Pedestrian
Pedestrian

The downtown DART police officers that cruise around in the Dodge Chargers are dangerous. Nearly been run over by them several times. Fat ex-high school bullies.

DirtyOldMan
DirtyOldMan

Jim, Jim, Jim, how can you be so misguided?Spikes in crime are directly related to downturns in the economy, as the seminal work "Fun With Dick and Jane" indisputably proves.Get your facts straight!

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Seems alot of Grove people here. Anyways, why use the Fare Enforcers anyways? I've really never see them as much and its the PD doing there jobs. Save some money and cut them, and let the police use them.

Since I take the Green Line, the more South I've seen them was at Fair Park, I've never seen then get on in PG or South Dallas. I actually did get a laptop jacked once, but this was in my neighborhood but the dude rode my bus home. So you really don't know if this would been handled by DART PD or Dallas PD, but I called Dallas PD, and you know how they are. I lost my phone on the bus one time, but thankfully someone found it, and I just had to go downtown and I was reunited.

Ya, it's scary at times even late at night ethier getting home from work, or one of thoses long School Board Meetings or something. You just got to be aware around your surroundings.

Afraid
Afraid

 I take the Green line to Lake June late in the evening and always try sit in the front cart, where I feel just a bit safer knowing that since there is no police presence in the trains at least the driver would notice someone (me!) getting killed or robbed by some crack head between Pearl and Lake June stations. Black on White crime is no laughing matter.

Sa
Sa

Thieves are actually bold enough to walk up and just take stuff out of your hands?  Wow.  I lead a sheltered life.

When i rode the trains several years ago for a contract job, I always kept my hands or legs clasped around my purse and the laptop from the company I was working for.  I was terrified of losing the laptop.  Never had any trouble from anybody, but maybe I was lucky.

dallasmay
dallasmay

I ride DART, busses and trains, all the time. I have never once felt the least bit unsafe at any time. My wife takes the bus to work almost everyday and I have no worries about her trip. In fact, I actually worry more about her when she is driving -not because she is a bad driver, but because her statistical risk while driving vastly out weighs any risk she has on DART. 

I hate it when the press makes public transit sound unsafe and ignore the fact that you and your kids are FAR more likely to be killed while riding in a car.

Mike
Mike

They don't need to be on the trains. They just need to be at the stations, particularly the Green Line south of Pearl. We really do not have many station, particularly ones with serious crimes. Someone robs you on the train and they bolt, you scream bloody murder at the stop and do an Invasion of Body Snatchers routine pointing him out to the officer that should be there.

More evidence that the DART police chief is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Of course, given that executive selection is one way to quickly size up an organization's senior leaders, what else do you expect from DART?

Other quotes mention how out of shape DART police are. They do not have to run an obstacle course or a mile for an annual test? Many of the ones hanging out at West End look like they'd have a tough time getting over a picnic table.

HellsBelle
HellsBelle

The one stretch of time that I used the train for my commute (car was in the shop), I dropped my ticket on the platform.  I happened to be ticketed, but since the ticket machines only take cash, I had no proof of purchase.  I ended up paying $75 (plus another $225 in additional court fees because I made the mistake of not paying online within the first 30 days) because my $5 pass fell on the ground.

I will not ride it again until they go the way of the TRE and start taking cards at the ticketing machines so that I have some other proof of purchase.  I'd rather pay for a rental car next time.

Imthebest
Imthebest

amen. the rest of the comments on here should be void.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Hell, this is not new. There is a 1967 movie called , The Incident, about a car load of NYC subway goers being traumatized bya couple of thugs.

Eh
Eh

In the whole year the Green Line has been in service into the Pleasant Grove area, I've only seen fare inspectors once or twice in the evening past Martin Luther King Jr. Station. And I ride the train pretty much every day!!

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

So far thankfully hasn't happen since I take that route too, and then having to wait for the bus to take me close to home. Sometimes it can get scary, but at least I don't have to deal with the West End anymore.

Steve
Steve

I once had my laptop snatched from me while I was typing on it at a Starbucks.

Branden Helms
Branden Helms

My wife takes the bus to work to, and I encourage her to do that everyday. If the high level of deaths in Iraq were the same every year for the next four decades, we'd equal the number of deaths per year that cars take annually. On top of that, as safety standards have increased, the number of people in accidents who may have died have actually just been severly maimed.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

"her statistical risk while driving vastly out weighs any risk she has on DART."

That statistical risk for driving is probably based on an aggregate of all times of day, all weather conditions, all parts of town, drivers of all experience levels, etc. If I drive defensively, avoid driving in the middle of the night in certain parts of town, etc., my risk can be mitigated. But as soon as I step on a bus, some of my personal control over my situation vanishes. More importantly, if I walk outside a shop and get in my car and drive away, I'm probably a lot less exposed to crime than if I walk outside a shop, then stand for half an hour at a bus stop or train station. I'm certainly less likely to have someone snatch something from me while I'm driving in my car, than while I'm captive on a train.

RTGolden
RTGolden

dallasmay: actually you're right and Jim is right, sort of.  Spiller had the misfortune to say some things that leave interpretation up to the reader/rewriter.  Another interpretation would be to NOT follow whatever Jim calls logic and read what Spiller actually said: the influx of NEW riders has created NEW opportunities.  If Spiller had said what he said about one of the other lines, coming from, say, the northern suburbs instead of south Dallas, Jim would be right there with him saying: "Serves those sheltered and privileged rich white folks right, thinking they can flaunt their wealth while riding on the trains."

JimS
JimS

dallasmay: actually the guy who made public transit sound unsafe in this case was James Spiller, chief of police for DART, complaining to the Morning News about passengers causing a crime wave by using their cell phones.

MattL1
MattL1

Don't drop your ticket next time and there won't be any problems.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

What would have stopped you from losing the receipt along with the ticket?  And you want sympathy for neglecting to pay the fine when it was due?  Please.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

They will give you a receipt if you pay by card. TRE machines take them anyways.

cp
cp

Are you really that dense? Have you never ridden transit anywhere else on the PLANET? 

Gabe
Gabe

Well, you're ready. The machines now take credit cards. 

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

I think I've seen them in MLK as well too. Maybe once at Lawnview, but thats pretty much it.

Afraid
Afraid

 I have to take bus route 592 to get home, bust most of the time I just walk (I live past Jim Miller). The bus schedules are ridiculous. Who in the hell thought it was wise for a bus to leave two minutes before the trains arrive from downtown??? Oh, how I miss route 165, A bus ride home that used to take 30 minutes now takes an hour.

Sa
Sa

Wow.  Just wow. 

dallasmay
dallasmay

"My Granddad did it for 95 years, and it never killed him."

"It happens to other people, not me.""I can do it, because I'm smart about it.""I've already cut down to a safe level.""I only smoke safe, low tar cigarettes."

You can make all of the excuses you want. The numbers don't lie. It doesn't matter how good of a driver you are, because we all know how many really bad drivers there are out there that think they are good drivers. Just because YOU haven't been in an accident YET, doesn't mean that you are immune. It just means that you've been on the lucky side of the curve, so far.

Driving is by far the single most dangerous thing people do every day. Oh, and by the way:"I'm certainly less likely to have someone snatch something from me while I'm driving in my car, than while I'm captive on a train." HEY "GOOD DRIVER". HANG UP YOUR FREAKING PHONE WHILE YOU ARE BEHIND THE WHEEL!! YOU ARE GOING TO KILL SOMEONE. 

You are worried about your ridiculously tiny risk of having your phone snatched, and I am worried about you KILLING ME! You are why I take DART.

cp
cp

Sorry but I live in South Dallas and take the train. I jokingly cal lit the ghetto express because of the turdy kids who put their legs and feet all across the other seats and show ZERO respect for older people. But I've never seen anyone snatch a cell phone out of someone's hand. I swear to god, Dallas people are so stupid when it comes to basic things that most other "world-class" cities take for granted. This is precisely why we will never be a "world-class" city, because we blame transit crime on riders who don't know how to do transit. Stupid, stupid, stupid.  

dallasmay
dallasmay

Yeah, it's the Chief of Police's job to accurately communicate the risks associated with his jurisdiction. It is the journalist's job to accurately relate communicate the risks to the public in an honest way, and to put them in the proper perspective. You did not do that here. You purposefully made it sound as if crime was common on DART. It is not. You were being dishonest. You are doing nothing more than perpetuating the myths. 

The truth, that you didn't attempt to convey, is that the risks associated with driving a car is FAR GREATER than those associated with public transit. Traffic related fatalities is the #1 cause of death for people under the age of 30. 0 people died while taking DART last year. I personally do not know a single person who has ever died on a commuter bus or train. Thousands of cars are broken into and have items illegally removed in North Texas every year. I know dozens of people that have had their cars broken into. Last year, there was a total of 672 reported incedences of theft, burgulary, or robbery in the entire DART system, which includes Park and Rides, and DART's own facilities (which doesn't effect passengers). There was a total of 129 reported instances of robbery on the entire DART system. Meanwhile, in the city of Dallas alone, there were over 8000 cars stolen and a reportable crash happened in Dallas ever 28 minutes, and someone died on Dallas's roads every 42 hours.

Again, in the same time period, 0 people died taking DART. You dishonestly reporting the risks of taking DART. 

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Ya, that always happends to me with the 594, ethier I just get off at Lake June, or if I'm lucky enough go to Buckner so I feel ya! I have to the end since that the closest real bus route to my house. In Kleberg we actually do have a route, but only runs during the week at Rush Hour. Sometimes, I just end up at Buckner which is just a 10 mins. away from my house anyways. Still, it takes me a hour to get home if I'm coming from Downtown with or without the buses.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

What makes you think I'm talking on the phone while driving? You're leaping to conclusions. 

james
james

twisted it into something even more stupid than it originally was? hey, pard thass how us ignorant rednecks ridicule idjits. when they act stoopid we poke fun an' make stoopid jokes at their stoopiditity. i unnerstan' tellin' folks not to beg to git ripped off. but trains an' buses fulla heathens ain't safe. some years back a cop was kilt near downtown dallas with the crowd at a heathensville bus stop cheerin' the perpetrator on-a nutcase who jist beat up the cop an' took his gun. now especially in heatheny parts of town like that, a public transportation bus needs a police presence. i don't ride the bus, but the folks that do are sayin' they never see'em.  since my tax$$$  pay fer this shit, i wanna know where these cops are? besides sittin' in his office advisin' folks that his buses ain't safe to carry anythin'  ya cain't afford to lose on. lissen asshole, git outta yer office an' offa yer ass an go out an' keep at least 1 ousy bus safe yer own self. lead by example?

RTGolden
RTGolden

I recently moved down to Balch Springs myself, and have occasion to use DART every now and then to get downtown.  I also have noticed a lot of disrespectful youths, but very little actual crime.  Not that it doesn't happen, I just haven't seen it.  My point is Jim, as usual, took something someone said and twisted it into something even more stupid than it originally was.  And, I maintain, had the Chief's comments been directed at a new line coming out of a suburb instead of South Dallas, especially a northern suburb, Jim would have had no issues with his statement at all.  Jim does hate everyone who lives up in Wonderbread land. (crusty on the outside, white on the inside and soft all the way through)

dallasmay
dallasmay

"But I guarantee you, there is crime, daily at any given time on DART, at any given location. it's crime, it doesn't stop for anyone, nor for any location."

Are you okay, dude? Look, I know I don't know you, and this is just a silly anonymous message board, but that statement is seriously bordering on paranoia or some kind of obsessive disorder. I don't know if you actually believe that statement, but if you do, you should probably go talk to a doctor. As I said, this isn't Kabul. There isn't crime at every station, every day.  There aren't even crimes every day. The numbers of crimes per day are very clearly published and easy to find. If you just don't believe them, well I don't know what to tell you. 

On second thought, here is my suggestion. Use Google Maps to find a church in South Dallas. Go to that church. Attend services there for 6 months or so. Meet the people. You'll see that they are not all bad people. In fact, most of them are really good, hardworking people. Even their kids are good kids. Just like white kids. There isn't a rain of bullets every night in South Dallas. There aren't bombs going off. It isn't what you see on the evening news. Relax, the world isn't as bad as TV talking heads say it is. Turn off the TV in the evenings. Don't watch the news. Take the dog for a walk around your local park instead. Relax. No one is trying to kill you. It's okay to go outside.You will live a happier life. 

dallasmay
dallasmay

No, they are not. There are people that ride DART. Many of them are black or mexican, and young, and like to dress like their favorite Rap star, but that doesn't instantly make them gang bangers. I used to teach in Dallas ISD, in one of the "Bad Schools". I had lots of students that weren't in Gangs. In fact, the vast majority weren't. They were just kids. A lot were dumb kids, but they were good kids.  Just like white kids, except their parents don't have the money to buy them their own cars at 16, so they take public transit to get around. They are just kids, dude. Relax. The vast majority of them have never hurt anyone. And guess what, I even had a few that were in gangs in my classes, and even the ones that are in Gangs are just kids. They aren't warlocks. They aren't soulless. And they aren't threatening people on the trains. Here is my suggestion to you. Stop watching the evening news. Please. Stop. Talk a walk around your local park instead. Stop being scared of other people, just because a talking head on the news tells you they are scary. You will live a much happier life. 

Imthebest
Imthebest

Dallasmay, really man. There are gangs ALL over DART!! Seriously, they're just not reported that way. Please take caution when riding. Do not be this naive when riding or walking around DART. Like everyone else said, ride down the blue line down south. Hell, part of the north red line is a nice eye opener too.With all the respect in the world, be safe. I don't know what stats you're looking at, but I can assure you, they are not correct.

Imthebest
Imthebest

There are people killed in every city annually, actually, not excluding DART. Whether they be accidents or actual crimes committed, it's happened, annually.Kudos for sticking up for DART. As for feeling safe because you've never been a victim of DART's amazing patrons, congratulations to you. But I guarantee you, there is crime, daily at any given time on DART, at any given location. it's crime, it doesn't stop for anyone, nor for any location.Be safe.

YoHomey
YoHomey

Naive reality-ignoring white-guilt libtard.

dallasmay
dallasmay

You know what? Yeah. An occasional report from the media entitled, "Reminder to Suburbanites: Dallas isn't as bad as Afghanistan, You can Relax a little now" would be nice every now and then to balance out all of the blatant fear mongering that is chugged out of the presses every day. My wife and I moved to Dallas about five years ago, and her mother about had a heart attack when we told her we were moving to Oak Cliff. We have never been broken into *knock on wood*, but even if we were it's not that big of deal. We have insurance. I'm not scared -mostly because I refuse to watch local TV Evening News. And still, our families don't like to come visit us because they don't want to risk their kids lives dodging all of the bullets that are apparently raining down from the skys every night.

Here is the way it works: A person is told over and over again that the world is this horribly dangerous place and everyone should be afraid. So they move out to the 'burbs. But that's not enough. So they buy big heavy doors with big locks. But that's not enough. So they buy and expensive Security System to protect themselves. But that's not enough. So they buy guns. And you know what happens? They can still be broken into, and now the thieves don't just have their DVD player, they also have their guns. Those guns are then shipped to mexico and are used to terrorize innocent people. All because News Publishers in the States want to sell newspapers by feeding on peoples fear of others. 

I'm just so sick of the pointless fear mongering. Riding DART is safe. Period. It's one of the safest places you can be. There are no "roving gangs of thieves" on the busses or trains.  (What is this? Ancient Persia?) 

JimS
JimS

I should have pointed out that riding DART is way less dangerous than rock-climbing. It's also considerably less dangerous than ultimate kick-boxing. It's amazingly less dangerous than the entire nation of Afghanistan. But here is my question: why should I have to put up with roving gangs of thieves on my train, no matter how dangerous other stuff may be? 

dallasmay
dallasmay

Oh, so it's a conspiracy now? And yes, that young man's death is a tragedy, just like the thousands of deaths that happen on Texas roads year. 

By the way, I ride the Blue Line all of the time, but I bet you don't often drive your car around South Dallas. It is a high crime area, but that still doesn't make driving safer than transit. Not by a long shot. 

Lonestranger
Lonestranger

You don't know shit from shinola when it comes down to crime on the trains. Not everything is reported. Hey didn't that young man died just the other week as he got off a Dart train. I would bet if you took the Blue line every day for a month to Ledbetter station your tune would change. 

cp
cp

He wasn't being dishonest- he's skewering the DART police chief for being a dumbass. Did ya read the part where he said "If I can't use a cell phone wherever I want, then I don't want a cell phone"? Maybe you don't understand Jim's style or read "Git Offa Mah Lawn" very often...

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...