T outsources security at revenue facility
New firm, G4S, employed suspected Orlando murderer
STATE HOUSE NEWS
FOLLOWING IDENTIFIED VULNERABILITIES at its Charlestown revenue facility, the MBTA shifted security from the MBTA Transit Police Department to the private firm G4S, which is in the news recently for employing the suspected Orlando mass-murderer.
“We took immediate action after a consultant identified very, very serious security lapses that we believed were potentially going to endanger our employees,” MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve told reporters on Monday.
Lt. Michael Rae, president of the Superior Officers Association at the MBTA Police, said the transit agency is “playing games,” and the T police have provided security at the money room since the 1980s.
According to T officials, an expert’s inspection of the facility and review of security tapes found outside gates and doors were all left open at the same time, making it vulnerable to a breach.
The review also determined armed revenue collection agents’ firearms licenses were not regularly checked to see if they were up-to-date, visitors were allowed to enter the facility with minimal or no screening, and security controls on doors were regularly overridden, according to the T.
Speaking during the public comment period of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, Lt. Stephen Salisbury, treasurer for the superior officers association and member of the T police force, noted that MBTA Police officers have regular training and the power of arrest.
“What savings is the MBTA realizing to give up all that? Are they subject to drug testing? Are they subject to self-reporting? If they get arrested over the weekend do they come in and say, ‘Hey lieutenant, I got arrested over the weekend. I can’t carry a firearm’? See these are the things we don’t know,” Salisbury said. He said, “We have no communications with them so if something goes bad and we respond, we’re coming in blind.”
Before weaknesses were identified at the facility, the T had already been considering privatization of cash-handling at the money room, which counts more than $132 million per year in revenue from the T, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the cities of Boston and Cambridge.
According to the T, MBTA Police were paid about $750,000 per year to provide security at the facility in Charlestown’s Sullivan Square while G4S will cost about $400,000 annually. The security group began work June 6 and has a statewide purchasing agreement, according to the T.
G4S acknowledged employing Omar Mateen, who died in a confrontation with police after allegedly murdering at least 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday morning.
Both Salisbury and Rae said during its first day providing security at the money room, there was a lapse as the security person at the front desk was unarmed and not licensed to carry a weapon.
“The sergeant says to him, ‘Wait a minute, we were sold a bill of goods that you guys were armed security over here, and he’s like, ‘Well, I’m going through the process,'” Salisbury told the board. “So the very first day we had a compromise at the money room.”Rae said staffing of the money room is done by sergeants and patrol officers and said about three MBTA Police would be there at any time. He said the change means superior officers are now “handing out firearms to civilians.”
“We don’t know who these people are,” Rae said.