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Commuter Abuse By MTA Guards Investigated By Sheriff's Department

Photo by GarySe7en via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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Last August, a young man sleeping inside Downtown's 7th/Metro Station was roused by an MTA security guard; during the incident the guard delivered a kick to the patron's head, which was not only not part of his job description, but also captured on surveillance cameras inside the station. The footage convinced a jury to find the guard guilty of using excessive force. Cases such as this one happen more frequently than perhaps reported, and today's LA Times offers a look at the the 11 investigations launched in the past two years by the L.A. County's Sheriff's Department into allegations of abuse.Commuters have documented occurrences of being "improperly detained, pushed, choked and struck by Metropolitan Transportation Authority security guards," and many of these episodes "were captured on surveillance cameras at subway and light-rail stations." While employed to monitor illegal and suspicious activity on the MTA system, the guards are meant to work in a limited capacity:

Although the 97 MTA security guards carry guns, batons and pepper spray, they are not legally authorized to act as law enforcement officers. Their main responsibilities are protecting MTA property, guarding revenues and closing subway stations when daily service ends.

They report directly to the MTA, despite previous arrangements which had them reporting to the Sheriff's Department. On the heels of these investigations, and a noted strain between the factions, the MTA believes that following current contract negotiations, the security guards will resume reporting to the Sheriff's Department.