At San Diego MTS, ‘Significant Social Justice Issues’ Addressed

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
image description

MTS internal Code Compliance Inspectors are now wearing new uniforms that include a bright yellow band on the upper body. The 158 contracted Transit System Security officers will begin wearing new uniforms, that sport a light blue color rather than the “traditional law enforcement dark blue” this summer.

No choke holds. No carotid restraints. No excessive force. New uniforms: These are among the security reforms the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has put in place to better-serve the riding public.

Among many other changes, the MTS is introducing a new look for its contracted Transit System Security (TSS) officers, led by former New York MTA Police Chief Al Stiehler, “to reflect the agency’s commitment to security reform, which has included revised use of force policies, a fare citation diversion program, adopting the principles of the #8 Can’t Wait campaign and the third-party review of our security policies,” the agency said. The distinctive new uniforms replace the traditional dark blue uniforms with light blue “to provide greater visibility of staff so riders can easily identify them for assistance, if needed.”  The 158 TSS officers will begin wearing their new uniforms this summer. 

MTS’s 64 internal Code Compliance Inspectors (CCI) were also slated for new uniforms, and are wearing them now. They sport a bright yellow band on upper body. 

Together, CCIs and TSS officers are responsible for patrolling 53 stations, three San Diego Trolley lines and 95 bus routes.

Since July 2020, MTS has been implementing security improvements:

Banning carotid restraints and choke holds, including the prohibition of using knee pressure on the neck, throat or head—a practice made infamous by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, now on trial for the murder of George Perry Floyd Jr. 

  • Adopting a “duty to intervene” if MTS security officers witness excessive force by another employee.
  • Adopting many of the principles in the #8 Can’t Wait campaign and as a guideline for its use-of-force policy.
  • Implementing a fare citation diversion pilot program to help riders caught without a fare avoid court fees and criminal citation.
  • Hiring former New York MTA Chief Al Stiehler as new Director of Transit Security and Passenger Safety.
  • Conducting an outside peer review of its security practices that has led to approximately 65 recommendations for improvement.

“The significant social justice issues involving law enforcement all over the country have made us even more aware of how we want to engage with the community,” said Monica Montgomery Steppe, Chair of the MTS Public Security Committee and San Diego City Councilmember. “We’ve made a concerted effort to place the focus on serving riders and the new uniforms reflect this new approach.”

“During the past year, MTS Security has been working diligently with the Public Security Committee to explore ways to better serve our customers by emphasizing our role as ambassadors to our riders,” said Stiehler. “We have been adopting principles, guidelines and implementing policies to be of better service to our community, and the new uniforms align better with that approach.”

Tags: , , ,