LOS ANGELES, CA Jan 7 2017-- More than 100 roving security inspectors supplied by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are no longer working on Metro rail systems, with their duties being performed by Metro personnel instead, it was reported Friday.
The security assistants -- who stood on light-rail platforms and boarded train cars in order to weed out fare-evaders throughout Metro's rail system -- were cut out of a contract for Metro rail and bus policing services and were no longer performing fare enforcement as of Jan. 1, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
A temporary two-month contract approved in late December after the old one expired runs through Feb. 28 at a cost of $18.7 million.
The contract continues all regular patrols of the sheriff's Transit Services Bureau on Metro trains, stations, platforms and buses, with 290 sworn sheriff deputies assigned per day -- minus the 106 security assistants, who mostly checked to see if riders paid their way after the fact, said Capt. Rick Mouwen.
"That function will now revert back to Metro," Mouwen said. "Metro is doing the fare enforcement." Mouwen said, adding the transit security personnel will be absorbed into other non-peace officer jobs within the sheriff's department.
From as far back as 2003, security inspectors would enforce what was mainly an honor system on subways and light-rails, such as the Red Line, Gold Line, Blue Line and Green Line.
Recently, they began using palm-sized card-reading devices to check if a passenger's TAP card had been swiped. If not, the inspectors had the power to write citations of $75 for fare evasion and up to $250, said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.
They were equipped with walkie-talkie-type radios attached to their bodies to call for backup in order to make arrests or report suspicious activities, Sotero said.
"Metro no longer wanted them for this enforcement," Mouwen said.
Mouwen said LASD and Metro were in continuing negotiations over the structure of a long-term policing contract, which would cost Metro about $112 million annually.
In December, the Metro staff proposed using Los Angeles Police Department and Long Beach Police Department officers on lines running in those cities, while reducing the deputies' presence on other lines.
The so-called "multi-agency approach" would be a major departure from the exclusive use of the LASD since 2003.
The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to take up the issue of a new transit policing contract at its Feb. 23 board meeting at its headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.