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MTS, NCTD Boards Meet After ‘Security Breach’ Transit Investigation

The board of the Metropolitan Transit System gathered Thursday morning for more than three hours to discuss their monthly agenda items. But it wasn’t until the last few minutes of the meeting when board member John Minto raised concerns over KPBS/inewsource's recent investigation into San Diego’s transit security.

Trolley cop Jeff Metz asks a passenger for her ticket.

Aired 2/22/13 on KPBS News.

The board of the Metropolitan Transit System gathered Thursday morning for more than three hours to discuss their monthly agenda items, including concerns over KPBS/inewsource's recent investigation into San Diego’s transit security.

The story detailed a long relationship between the Metropolitan Transit System, the North County Transit District and the private security company Universal Protection Service, and included multiple interviews with Universal officers who said they had little to no training and weren’t prepared for any major emergency situation — despite what Universal’s contracts with the transit districts state.

On the 10th floor of the downtown MTS administration building, Minto said he felt it important for the board to fully understand what’s happening with the private security contract and lack of officer training.

He was quickly joined by San Diego City Councilmembers Marti Emerald and David Alvarez, who directed staff to provide more information about the issue during next month’s board meeting.

Councilman Todd Gloria had to leave the meeting before the issue was brought up, but he told inewsource he had addressed it at last week's MTS Executive Committee meeting.

A few hours after the MTS meeting, up in Oceanside, the board of the North County Transit District — which also contracts with the same private security company as the Metropolitan Transit System — held their monthly meeting.

Yet no one on the board raised concerns over – or even mentioned – the KPBS/inewsource investigation. Last week, San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, who sits as the chairman of the NCTD board, told inewsource the whole matter is simply “a labor dispute.”

No other NCTD board members would respond to inewsource’s phone calls or emails.

UPDATE (3pm Friday, Feb. 22, 2013)

inewsource received a response from North County Transit District's Executive Director Matthew Tucker in an email this afternoon. The text is below, or you can read the whole document here.

Date: February 22, 2013

To: NCTD Board of Directors

From: Matthew O. Tucker, Executive Director

RE: Universal Protection Services

"As a follow-up to our previous memorandum, I wanted to share the steps that NCTD staff is taking to fully assess and address, if needed, any areas in need of improvement in the training plan of our security contractor, Universal Protection Services (UPS).

  • On January 23, 2013, I met with UPS Vice President, Ken Moeller to discuss the concerns raised in the KPBS article.
  • I have also had several discussions with NCTD's Chief of Security, Tom Zoll, and Chief of Safety, Tom Tulley, to discuss both the oversight and training for security contractors. There is unanimous agreement among NCTD staff that providing robust training is something that we support for all of our direct and contracted employees.
  • I have tasked Mr. Zoll to review all of the training requirements specified at all regulatory levels (including best practices) and to conduct a gap analysis of the training that Universal Protection Services provides per the NCTD contract.
  • Mr. Zoll and Mr. Tulley have agreed that UPS personnel will be included in our upcoming and future emergency drills.
  • On February 20, 2013, I met with NCTD's Contracts Manager, Larry Frum, and requested that he submit a formal request to UPS to provide a consolidated report validating the actual completion of the training provided to the individual employees UPS has assigned to NCTD's contract.
  • On February 27, 2013, I, along with Mr. Zoll and Mr. Tulley, will meet with a UPS employee who has raised concerns relating to training. A representative from NCTD's Board Chair's Office will attend this meeting.

At our March 21, 2013 meeting of the Board, NCTD staff will provide a formal report and presentation to ensure that the issues raised in the KPBS article are fully vetted and addressed to the extent areas of improvement are identified.

Should there be any questions or concerns related to this memorandum, feel free to contact me."

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