Increased Security Presence on Trains

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Status
Not open for further replies.

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,498
I do agree that some of the homeless types are an annoyance down there, but I suspect they could be dealt with using private security, not fully armed sworn officers.
I mean I’ve seen officers (not sure what division?) with automatic rifles patrolling / watching the food court areas of New York Penn.
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
256
Never felt unsafe on any Amtrak train or in any station...maybe the closest I've felt to "uncomfortable" would be in KAL because there are homeless shelters on either side of the station building, trespassing on the tracks is frequent (as evidenced by the guy who got hit in front of passengers last year...just straight up did not care), and the north side of town isn't exactly the best area. There is a homeless encampment on the north side of the tracks about a half-mile east as well. I've been approached multiple times either as a passenger or because I had my camera with me to shoot during golden hour.

Station policing was just turned over to the county, so I get the feeling that the surrounding area is going to be cleaned up rather quickly. Not to say that the city officers didn't do a good job or didn't try, they just didn't have the resources.

I'm not sure how effective it would be to have an APD officer on board every train. It may have come in handy when the AML conductor was stabbed while approaching Niles a few years back, but I haven't heard anything like that happening anywhere else since and it still could've happened if the officer was in a different car. Seems like a false sense of security to me.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,388
What leads you to believe private security are unarmed?
Unarmed security costs less, both in terms of wages and liability insurance, and is enough to keep the peace and meet the burden of due diligence 99.99% of the time. The other .01% of the time you're probably going to be calling the actual police anyway. I've worked with both armed and unarmed security and find the armed folks to be more aggressive toward unknown people and unexpected situations.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
19,780
Unarmed security costs less, both in terms of wages and liability insurance, and is enough to keep the peace and meet the burden of due diligence 99.99% of the time. The other .01% of the time you're probably going to be calling the actual police anyway. I've worked with both armed and unarmed security and find the armed folks to be more aggressive toward unknown people and unexpected situations.
It takes a certain kind of person to want to bear arms while on the job. Sadly, too many inappropriate people are doing Private Armed Security and working as Law Enforcement Members.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,778
I mean I’ve seen officers (not sure what division?) with automatic rifles patrolling / watching the food court areas of New York Penn.
Homeland security theater. There are like five different organizations who pay people to stand around with guns and do nothing useful in Penn. Considered a cushy posting for the military because they are not allowed to do anything. NYPD and the transit agencies' cops (NJT, LIRR, Amtrak NYC Transit) are supposed to deal with crime and social issues and sometimes do.
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,778
It happened to us on the LSL last February. Border patrol police asked PAX if thy were US citizens. Barely waited for our responses and moved on.
CBP is just engaging in illegal racist profiling of people with accents or who don't have English as a first language. It is disgraceful.

Amtrak Police have generally been a lot more professional than CBP, DEA, NYPD, etc.
 

Manny T

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
478
Where Amtrak needs police is the food court in Union Station in DC. Sit down for two minutes and I can guarantee the homeless will come and beg for money.
I wasn't aware that begging is a crime. I think some jurisdictions have laws against aggressive panhandling (as defined in their statutes), but not all places do. The laws have frequently been invalidated as unconstitutional, and the whole area is a complex morass of legal and moral considerations. I doubt D.C. has an anti-begging law. It does have an ordinance against "aggressive panhandling."

Believe me, I'm not in favor of aggressive panhandling in food courts. I'm also not in favor of making homelessness a crime, or impeding one citizen from approaching another to speak in a public space (even if it's a request for funds). As long as it's not "aggressive" (aye, there's the rub).
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
707
The best panhandling I've seen at a rail station (outside CUS) involved a homeless person of color, reasonably clean but unshaven and wearing older clothes. He did have some bags of belongings with him, maybe everything he owned? He didn't say much if anything upon his approach. Instead, he tried to get people to take a postcard-size piece of paper with a photocopied hand-printed message on it.

I took one, and in decent parlance, it concisely explained his history, how he had hit hard times, and even his goal to get back to a better life. Convincingly. The printing was legible enough.

I observed for awhile, and noticed many people avoiding his paper. But of those who took and read it, there was a fair amount of empathy and also $$$ (from those who did not appear rushed to catch a train). I eventually kicked in a couple bucks myself.

I remember thinking at the time, this is the way to do it if one is in this situation. I can't say anyone seemed to be afraid of the guy, though a few were rude. His demeanor was not agitated or demanding. He was actually polite and always said thank you when someone parted with some coin or folding money. I could actually imagine him someday getting his life back together.

I wonder today, in light of this discussion, if law enforcement could make a case that this scenario was "aggressive."
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,045
The problem with the "aggressive" standard is that it's subjective. Another is its context in a multi-layered legal system where there are so many laws on the books (many of them broad, complex, and/or opaquely phrased) that it can be difficult to know whether you're in violation.

One definition of a police state is that a) policing is ubiquitous, and b) the state has the power to arrest and charge anyone with a crime at any moment. Laws written broadly, with subjective standards for enforcement, enable police to harrass or arrest people at will.
 

AFS1970

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
47
I do agree that some of the homeless types are an annoyance down there, but I suspect they could be dealt with using private security, not fully armed sworn officers.
I worked security at a local mall for several years and this sort of food court issue was a big problem. Many of the homeless knew we had limited powers and would ignore us or keep returning after being removed. For better or worse people fear the police more, which may only be because they have better options available to them than private security. Plus this would not require additional officers, this would simply be part of the regular patrols they do of the station.
 

tim49424

Conductor
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
2,307
King Street Station in Seattle seems to be getting worse and worse regarding the homeless situation. While waiting for the Empire Builder last week there were a few of them inside the building harassing others. I was lucky not to be approached but noticed a guy following other passengers around after the arrival of one of the trains. There was a woman yelling at several people as well. Both seemed to be on some sort of illegal substance.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,564
Other than very rare instances of people being kicked off the train due to(more than likely) being too drunk or acting annoying to other customers I suspect, honestly most trips I've taken on Amtrak have felt pretty safe to me.

Funny someone mentioned Washington, DC Union Station about the homeless in that food court and near that station being annoying, since occasionally I'll notice them at Chicago Union Station asking for money somewhere inside or just outside of that station. I do wish Amtrak Police did watch for that a little more closely, and kicked out people who were being annoying doing that.
I got hit up three times in a few minutes at WAS a week ago. I'm used to the occasional ask, but three times back-to-back-to-back was...jarring.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,853
King Street Station in Seattle seems to be getting worse and worse regarding the homeless situation. While waiting for the Empire Builder last week there were a few of them inside the building harassing others. I was lucky not to be approached but noticed a guy following other passengers around after the arrival of one of the trains. There was a woman yelling at several people as well. Both seemed to be on some sort of illegal substance.
That's unfortunate and I am sorry that you experienced that. King Street Station is really a nice station, I think. When I was there, I don't recall that I saw any Police presence, Amtrak's or Seattle's.
 

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,663
I tend to get shot down for my socialist views, but what should the world do with the mentally ill, the homeless, the addicts?
Are there enough well paid jobs in the whole world to employ every so called "layabout" … I doubt it myself.
Let's be kind to the less well off who ask for a little help, maybe one day we may ourselves be on the receiving end of a "security" eviction from a food court...?

Ed.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,853
what should the world do with the mentally ill, the homeless, the addicts?
Surely not enough. Not certain about your Nation, but in my country more money needs to be allocated to restoring the social services that have been cut, cut, and cut again. Why? Cutting taxes is more important than providing funds that many of our unfortunate citizens--some because of their own actions admittedly--need.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,388
I don't enjoy dealing with beggars anymore than the next guy, but I'm always curious where the folks who complain about homeless people actually expect them to go. Where I live there are few long term solutions, most of which come with strings attached, and no practical options for the seriously impaired other than private for-profit jails where abuse is rampant but meaningful treatment is nonexistent. Most of our support services only accept people who carry official documentation, match a very specific (and somewhat contradictory) set of conditions, and can adhere to a regimented lifestyle. If you mess up then you're out on your own again, but if you could handle that sort of environment you probably wouldn't have ended up on the street in the first place. Our "war on poverty" has been halfhearted at best, our current policies make little or no practical sense, yet we continue to slash funding while expecting things to get better. :confused:
 
Last edited:

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,498
Were they automatic or semi-automatic rifles?
I mean, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to ask them? But be my guest :)

Is that like the difference between a locomotive and a cab car.... technically a cab car isn’t a locomotive but it looks the same and accomplishes the same task?
 

Saddleshoes

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
34
King Street Station in Seattle seems to be getting worse and worse regarding the homeless situation. .
100% Agree!

(I suspect it is directly related the the legalization of recreational pot in the state of Washington.)
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
505
I don't enjoy dealing with beggars anymore than the next guy, but I'm always curious where the folks who complain about homeless people actually expect them to go. Where I live there are few long term solutions, most of which come with strings attached, and no practical options for the seriously impaired other than private for-profit jails where abuse is rampant but meaningful treatment is nonexistent. Most of our support services only accept people who carry official documentation, match a very specific (and somewhat contradictory) set of conditions, and can adhere to a regimented lifestyle. If you mess up then you're out on your own again, but if you could handle that sort of environment you probably wouldn't have ended up on the street in the first place. Our "war on poverty" has been halfhearted at best, our current policies make little or no practical sense, yet we continue to slash funding while expecting things to get better. :confused:
Ive encountered them in Seattle and always WAS. I do talk to them. When I was in my 20's I had lost both parents and was down to my last $50 and had gas in my car. I solved the problem by not being too proud and built chain link fences for 6 cents a foot.1000 feet a day. I did not have a roof over my head. I resolved not to be poor and retired at 49. Its tough for lots of these folks but most are drug addicts or alcoholics and prey on folks in the train stations.
 

tim49424

Conductor
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
2,307
That's unfortunate and I am sorry that you experienced that. King Street Station is really a nice station, I think. When I was there, I don't recall that I saw any Police presence, Amtrak's or Seattle's.
I've been there about seven or eight times, all of which since 2017. It indeed is a nice station but something has to be done.....and there was no police presence last week as well.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,853
I doubt that. I am thinking those who were causing a disturbance last week had to do with harder drugs, not pot.
Surely, I can not say with any certainty. But, the homeless that I witnessed in downtown Seattle were just that....homeless. Using public transport to get to the See's Candy Store in downtown Seattle was an eye opener for me. The plaza near the Store had many such folks. They didn't bother me nor me them. I saw no offensive behavior nor any reason that would make me think they were anything more than...homeless.

"What you do for the least of these, you do for me." Words spoken by Jesus. Our society and individually: have we forgotten this?
 
2
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top