ST. LOUIS – The head of security for Bi-State Development is addressing concerns about the lack of armed security guards on Metrolink trains.
Metro has a lot of security personnel, but a lot of them don’t carry guns.
“The component of armed security is always going to be law,” Kevin Scott, Metro’s general manager of security, said.
There are 40 Metro public safety officers who are unarmed and 130 contracted security and fare enforcement personnel who are unarmed. There are 68 police officers who are armed, and 100 part-time police officers and deputies who are also armed.
Scott says the security officers cannot be armed under a federal compact. Can security guards make a difference if they’re not armed?
“There is a substantial benefit to security personnel for customer engagement. Eyes and ears on the system. A lot of our engagements are non-criminal engagements,” he said.
Scott disputes the notion that having unarmed guards is a weak link.
“Having armed officers would be beneficial. I would love to have more, yes. I wouldn’t call it a weak link but it is something that’s a substantial return on investment,” he said.
Scott says there’s a good reason they can’t turn security guards into armed guards.
Bi-State Development was created in a federal Bi-State Pact decades ago between St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County, Illinois. There were stipulations.
“Civilian security officers cannot be licensed as armed security under the compact,” he said. “The compact specifically says anyone who is armed has to be post-certified law enforcement.”
Does Scott think this was a deal by law enforcement to protect their own deals by preventing Bi-State from hiring armed security?
“I don’t think there was any malicious intent. I don’t think this was malicious intent. It is the dynamic that we have to work with at this point,” he said.