FRA Awarding $2MM in Trespass, Suicide Prevention Grants

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
“No mission is more important than saving lives, and FRA is fully committed to supporting states and communities in the collective effort to prevent avoidable tragedies,” FRA Administrator Amit Bose said.

“No mission is more important than saving lives, and FRA is fully committed to supporting states and communities in the collective effort to prevent avoidable tragedies,” FRA Administrator Amit Bose said.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is distributing more than $2 million in Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grants and Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grants to 25 law enforcement projects in 13 states.

FRA on June 13 reported that the grants are targeted toward “communities and states with a high incidence of rail trespass-related incidents and casualties,” and are part of the agency’s efforts to reduce the approximately 400 trespass fatalities that occur around the country each year, almost all of which are preventable. Noting that rail suicides often involve railroad trespassing as well, FRA reported that from 2016-21, an average of more than 236 people died by suicide within the U.S. rail system each year in addition to at least another 27 individuals injured in suicide attempts annually.

Twenty-two projects are receiving Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Activities Grants in 2022 to fund hourly wages for law enforcement officers to enforce trespass violations at known trespass “hot spots,” according to FRA. “Grant recipients will report their activities and the associated benefits to FRA, augmenting the agency’s data collection efforts and ensuring that these projects support key Departmental objectives, including safety, equity and inclusive approaches to infrastructure investments,” FRA said.

Three projects are receiving Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grants in 2022. They are slated to help prevent tragedies through outreach efforts such as advertising of mental health services, identifying and approaching individuals in need, or other methods to recognize the signs of an individual in crisis. Grant recipients will also use funding to devise curriculums and train professionals to better identify and respond to crisis situations. FRA said it will work to facilitate “collaboration among local law enforcement, communities, railroad carriers, educators and mental health organizations.”

“No mission is more important than saving lives, and FRA is fully committed to supporting states and communities in the collective effort to prevent avoidable tragedies,” FRA Administrator Amit Bose said. “Through these grants, we will deter railroad trespassing and suicide through coordinated responses from a broad range of local organizations specializing in law enforcement, education and mental health.”

Following are the grant recipients, by program. For more details, download the list below.

Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grant Program: $1,956,376

• Hanford Police Department, Calif., $24,077: The Hanford Police Department Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Project will fund railroad trespassing operations in the city of Hanford and the County of Kings.

• Southern California Regional Rail Authority, $112,795: The Metrolink Trespasser Reduction Task Force project will provide four additional deputies and one sergeant on overtime to conduct 24 trespassing enforcement operations over 12 months along the BNSF/San Bernardino railroad subdivision and the Orange railroad subdivision.

• City of Riverside, Calf., $24,520: The Riverside Police Department’s Riverside Trespassing Enforcement project will create a Trespasser Reduction Task Force comprising up to four officers and one sergeant to patrol railways and rail crossings. The railroads within Riverside supporting the project include BNSF, Union Pacific, Metrolink, Riverside County Transportation Committee, and Amtrak.

• City of San Bernardino, Calif., $120,000: The San Bernardino Police Department’s Operation Safe Rails II project will continue to gather data and increase awareness of the dangers of trespassing on railroad tracks while reducing the occurrence. The city is home to the Santa Fe Railroad Depot, which serves Amtrak and Metrolink lines, a Metrolink station, BNSF, and Union Pacific.

• Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Broward County, Fla., $120,000: The Broward County Sheriff’s Office project will address traffic enforcement, pedestrian trespassing and homeless outreach. A special focus will be given to addressing issues of homeless encampments erected in and around FRA-regulated tracks used by Brightline, Tri-Rail, Amtrak and Florida East Coast Railway, according to FRA.

• City of Hollywood, Fla., $120,000: The Hollywood Police Department’s Operation Fast Track project is a 12-month enforcement and educational campaign to maintain a visible law enforcement presence along six miles of railroad main line to reduce railroad trespassing. The railroads operating in the project area include Florida East Coast Railway, Tri-Rail, Brightline and Amtrak.

• City of Jacksonville, Fla., $78,157: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Railroad Trespassing Education and Enforcement Project includes conducting trespassing education and enforcement activities; assisting railroad police on their property, as needed; property checks at rail grade crossings and main rail yards; locating safety hazards on railroad property; and referral services for citizens encountered. Railroads operating in the area are Norfolk Southern (NS), CSX, Florida East Coast Railway, and St. Johns River Terminal Railroad (an NS subsidiary).

• Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Fla., $120,000: The Office’s project will address railroad trespassing in the city of Lake Worth, through enforcement activities and community awareness, which includes signage in English and Spanish near the railroad trespassing “hot spots.” Tri-Rail, Amtrak and CSX operate in the area.

• City of Tampa, Fla., $55,587: The Tampa Police Department’s project will address trespassing along 55 miles of CSX right-of-way in Tampa, through enforcement and education activities. During enforcement action, when applicable, homeless liaison law enforcement officials will provide information about community resources that address homelessness, substance abuse and mental health care. The CSX tracks within Tampa have multiple points of entry where trespassing and other criminal activity occur.

• Town of Brunswick, Maine, $77,000: The Brunswick Police Department project will use foot patrol, CCTV cameras, drones and Geographic Information System (GIS) spatial analysis to determine railroad trespassing “hot spots” along with contributing factors of those who trespass. The Department will “develop a rail trespassing enforcement program to share, train, and/or assist local and neighboring law enforcement agencies on implementing a response strategy using drone monitoring as well as trespassing countermeasures, and develop a model for building effective problem-solving partnerships with local law enforcement, community stakeholders, and local governments,” according to FRA. Railroads operating in the project area are Pan-Am, Amtrak and the State of Maine Railroad.

• City of Fitchburg, Mass., $42,892: The Fitchburg Police Department’s project will allow officers to undertake “hot spot” enforcement activities at, along, and around FRA-regulated tracks in Fitchburg. Enforcement activities will include investigating incidents or reports of trespassing. Warnings, arrests or citations will be issued to trespassers for violating rail-related trespass laws. The railroads operating in this area include Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Pan-Am and Amtrak.

• City of Worcester, Mass., $120,000: The Worcester Police Department’s project includes conducting railroad education and enforcement activities at “hot spot” locations. Guided by local information, crime statistics, and effective community response, the 26-week Worcester Trespass Prevention Program will cover patrols from May 1 through Oct. 31. Railroads operating in the area are Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Providence & Worcester, CSX, and Amtrak.

• Dearborn Police Department, Mich., $114,348: The Dearborn Police Department project will offer “high visibility and heavy engagement” at identified “hot spots.” The Department will collaborate with railroads and railroad police. The railroads within the city are Amtrak and CSX.

• Billings Police Department, Mont., $120,000: The Department’s project will focus on railroad trespassing by continuing the Montana Rail Safety Task Force that was established in 2020. The Task Force uses internal, FRA and railroad data to determine railroad trespassing “hot spots” located throughout Yellowstone County, and members conduct enforcement activities. Railroads operating within this project area are BNSF and Montana Rail Link.

• City of Greensboro, N.C., $120,000: The Greensboro Police Department’s project includes a comprehensive trespass prevention program with directed law enforcement patrols at identified railroad trespass “hot spots” within Greensboro, as well as rail safety campaigns at crossings and trespass locations. The railroads operating in the project area include Norfolk Southern and Amtrak.

• North Tonawanda Police Department, N.Y., $52,000: The North Tonawanda Police Department project includes rail trespassing enforcement activities along railroad rights-of-way in North Tonawanda in cooperation with the CSX Police Department.

• Coeymans Police Department, N.Y., $15,000: The Coeymans Police Department will undertake a six-month trespass prevention enforcement patrol along six miles of trackage that runs through the municipality. It will analyze data elements from FRA, CSX and internal law enforcement databases to determine trespassing “hot spots.” CSX, which operates in the area, is a project partner.

• City of Middletown, Ohio, $120,000: The Middletown Police Department’s project will improve railroad property safety at high trespass “hot spots” though patrols, in cooperation with the CSX Police Department.

• City of Oklahoma City, Okla., $120,000: The Oklahoma Police Department’s project will improve railroad property safety at high trespass areas and use foot patrols, drones, vehicle patrols, interviews, and analysis to identify the root causes of “hot spots” in the city. The grant will help fund overtime shifts so officers can conduct enforcement activities at vulnerable locations. The BNSF and SLWC Railroad Police Departments are project partners.

• Lower Makefield Township Police Department, Pa., $40,000: The Lower Makefield Township Police Department’s project will provide for approximately 12 hours of proactive police patrol activities per week for one year. Officers assigned to these patrols will monitor rail lines and the adjacent property along the Township’s four miles of rail lines. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and CSX operate in the project area.

• City of Knoxville, Tenn., $120,000: The Knoxville Police Department’s project includes conducting saturation patrols with two-person teams working in four-hour increments along 20 miles of railroad right-of-way within Knoxville. The Department anticipates conducting 12 saturation patrol operations over one year. Project partners are the Gulf & Ohio Railroad-Knoxville and Holston River Railroad.

• Houston Police Department, Tex., $120,000: The Houston Police Department’s project includes deploying up to four officers patrolling rail corridors in search of trespassers. The Department will conduct ongoing “hot spot” data analysis to ensure officers are effective. It will also deploy as necessary all-terrain vehicles, canine units and aerial support craft to access difficult areas along the railroad rights-of-way.

Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grant Program: $207,000

• South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, $56,500: The South Florida Rail Corridor Railroad Suicide Prevention Education and Outreach Campaign will address rail-related suicides and trespassing in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. South Florida Regional Transportation Authority will partner with 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast, a nonprofit agency that offers crisis counseling and suicide prevention. Railroads that operate within the project area are Amtrak, CSX and Tri-Rail.

• Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, $100,000: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s project includes engaging stakeholders and communities to help reduce the occurrence of trespasser suicide by increasing employee awareness and intervention skills through training activities. It will also address trespass suicide on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s system by conducting training and outreach with key railroad staff, first responders, and selected representatives of local community agencies. Railroads operating within this project area are Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Amtrak, Providence & Worcester, Pan-Am, CSX and Mass Coastal Railroad.

• New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, $50,500: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will use this funding to expand its current trespassing and suicide prevention mitigation efforts to include all 125 stations throughout the Long Island Rail Road system, and to develop and pilot a customized suicide intervention training program for public-facing Stations Department personnel by working in partnership with the New York State Office of Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention Center of New York.

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