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MBTA trains employees for terror, shooting threats

Special classes in Spanish put janitorial staff as front guard.
The MBTA emergency training center in South Boston.Nicolaus Czarneck, Metro

Security on the T is the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s top priority.

In light of a national spike in terror threats and active shooter situations, Randy Clarke, security and emergency management director with MassDOT, is working with various T departments on a massive security training program to better prepare T workers in the event of an emergency.

“We think passengers should feel safe everyday,” Clarke told Metro. “We run an unbelievably safe system. We move 1.37 million people a day and we do it with very little crime. But threats have increased dramatically in terms of active shooters and suspicious packages. There has been more concern, especially since the marathon incident.”

That’s why the T is pushing forward with an ambitious initiative to provide its employees with practical training so they can handle any threat that comes their way.

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About 2,200 first line employees – including rail and trolley operators, bus drivers and customer service employees - have participated in the training.

This month, about 500 contract cleaners are receiving an adapted version that includes a Spanish interpreter and revised videos with Spanish subtitles. It is the first time in the T’s history that the security department has focused on training cleaning staff.

The T wanted to extend training to janitors because of their “unique familiarity with and exposure to the transit system.”

“They are a great set of eyes and ears. They are on the property all day long,” said Clarke. “The more knowledge we can give them the more they can follow through with the message of ‘see something, say something.’”

The training program is a collaboration between the MassDOT Security & Emergency Management Department, MBTA Operations Training School, and the MBTA Transit Police Department.

The centerpiece of the initiative is an 8-hour course jointly developed by the three departments that instructs employees how to manage incidents in accordance with the “Incident Command System” that is used by public safety personnel across Boston and the nation. Employees also learn how cameras, access control, and other physical security features are being deployed at the MBTA.

Other topics include: The role of transit police and guidance to help employees identify and respond to threats such as suspicious packages and active shooter situations.

 
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