Dec 8, 2021 - News

SEPTA officers must work overtime through December

A transit police officer waits at the Broad Street Line to stop at Erie station.

A transit police officer waits for the Broad Street Line to stop at Erie station on April 1, 2020. Photo: Cory Clark/Getty Images

SEPTA is mandating transit officers work two hours of overtime per shift during the holidays.

Driving the news: SEPTA Police chief Thomas J. Nestel III signed off on the mandate for the transit agency's 213 sworn officers on Monday.

  • It'll go into effect later this week and officers will work 10-hour shifts through December, SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch told Axios.

What they're saying: SEPTA experiences an uptick in crime every December, Busch said.

  • "Riders will see a more visible police presence. That is one of the primary goals — increasing visible presence on the system as a deterrent to crime," he said.

Context: SEPTA has seen a string of violent attacks on its system in recent months.

Zoom out: Agency data through Nov. 30 shows a year-over-year rise in violence on SEPTA.

  • The agency has reported 85 aggravated assaults this year, compared to 68 in 2020 and 46 in 2019.
  • Robberies have reached 210, the same number for all of 2020 and up from 118 the year prior.
  • There have been 17 burglaries this year, compared to 15 last year and 10 in 2019.

Of note: Thefts have significantly decreased from 923 last year to 712 in 2021 so far.

The other side: Omari Bervine, president of the Fraternal Order of Transit Police Lodge 109 union, said the mandate was merely "symbolic" rather than an "effective action to increase the safety and security of SEPTA's passengers."

  • Officers, including Bervine, have been working 10-12 hours days throughout the year due to staff shortages, he said.
  • Bervine called on SEPTA to hire more police officers and provide better equipment.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.

More Philadelphia stories