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Two police officers hit and killed by south shore train

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On 12/25/2018 at 12:13 AM, Trogdor said:

 

That’s actually somewhat common. I remember a number of incidents like that from my CTA days, and even now still see the occasional “trains delayed due to police activity” announcements (granted, not all of them are about cops chasing suspects down tracks).

That said, I’m under the impression that there’s a much better communication line between the police department and CTA than police and the various railroads. Further, the police chasing someone on CTA will know “I’m on the Blue Line at Medical District” but I don’t know how trained they are to know the specific railroad, subdivision and milepost of a location if they are chasing someone on a mainline railroad. And that’s what it would take to get the same level of protection.

Given.   But, then, ought not there be some general familiarity and training about these things, too?

Admittedly, the morass of tracks and interchanges in and around Chicago can be confusing, even to a railfan.  Still, how does someone who works regularly in an area not know that a certain set of tracks is the old I.C. mainline with six busy tracks or that Metra and South Shore runs frequent trains up there?  Plus, with information readily available in digitized maps at fingertips of computer entry, ought not an emergency services dispather be able to pull up the appropriate information quickly, with basic street locations?  

Worst case scenario is that much of the trackage in the city has some sort of Metra service on it.  Contacting their police department or dispather ought to assist in sorting such things out.

 

 

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15 hours ago, NorthShore said:

Given.   But, then, ought not there be some general familiarity and training about these things, too?

Admittedly, the morass of tracks and interchanges in and around Chicago can be confusing, even to a railfan.  Still, how does someone who works regularly in an area not know that a certain set of tracks is the old I.C. mainline with six busy tracks or that Metra and South Shore runs frequent trains up there?  Plus, with information readily available in digitized maps at fingertips of computer entry, ought not an emergency services dispather be able to pull up the appropriate information quickly, with basic street locations?  

Worst case scenario is that much of the trackage in the city has some sort of Metra service on it.  Contacting their police department or dispather ought to assist in sorting such things out.

 

 

Maybe, maybe not. I honestly don’t know what training police receive regarding railroads in the area.  Perhaps Metra’s police department knows, but, honestly, by the time you get in contact with them, get them to figure out where you are, and then get in contact with the correct dispatcher, so much time will have passed that there’s no way you’ll have kept up pursuit of the suspect.

At CTA, you call their control center, tell them where you are, and they will get in touch with the power controller (who is located in the same room, a few feet away) and they can have power off and trains stopped within 30 seconds.

Personally, I’ve had two occasions to call railroad police to report dangerous trespasser activity.  One time, I saw a team of photographers scurrying from a crossing when the Empire Builder went through, and when the train cleared, they went right back to walking along the tracks.  The specific track is owned by Metra and dispatched by Canadian Pacific.  Whose police should I call?  Of course, at the time, I didn’t have the Metra police phone number (and it either wasn’t listed on the crossing gate or I didn’t think to check), but it was less than 1/4 mile from the end of Amtrak territory (CP Canal, north/west of Chicago Union Station) and I did have their number in my phone, so I called them.  It took 5-10 minutes to get through to someone, explain the situation, state exactly where I was, etc.  That’s far too long for an actual emergency.  (Side note, since I’m friends with a manager that runs the Amtrak control center in Chicago, I also called him so he could get a notice to outbound crews to be aware of the trespassers as they leave).

A second time, I saw a group of well-meaning, but evidently not sanctioned by the railroad (no safety vests or gear) folks picking up litter near the Jefferson Park Metra station, including stepping on the tracks, going well beyond the passenger platform, etc.  I can’t remember if I saw the Union Pacific police number posted at the station or if I had to google it, but it was an endless string of menu options (“If you are organizing a parade and the parade route is crossing our tracks, press 317”).  After several minutes of not finding the right menu option, I just gave up and hung up.

Now, I can guess/hope that local cops have a more direct number than a member of the public, but I know better than to automatically assume they do.  I can hope that cops receive training about the railroads in their specific area, but know better than to automatically assume they do.  Further, even if they do, I certainly wouldn’t assume that individual police officers are going to remember each of the dozen or two railroads and which one is where.  It might seem obvious to us to say “well, duh, that’s Metra Electric, that’s NICTD, that’s ... etc.” but I wouldn’t assume it’s obvious to everyone else.  I’ve known cops to be flat-out wrong about more obvious stuff than that, without the added stress of chasing a suspect with a gun.

I’m not going to say what these cops did was right or safe (clearly, in hindsight, it wasn’t), but if we are going to expect cops to have to go through a 5 or 10 minute process just to chase a suspect down the railroad, then that’s almost an instant getaway for any criminal that figures it out.  Just run down the railroad, they can’t chase you.

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Yeah, but at least then it's the criminal that gets killed.  :-p I'd still argue that a suspect who runs onto a railroad is stupid, not just for being on the tracks, but for essentially fencing oneself in.  As for chases, not every chase is a good chase.

CPD's Chief of Patrol said, in passing, "We'll learn from this."  I hope they do.   Then, the officers deaths will not have been in vain.

The era of high tech in which we live, alone, provides a lot of opportunity with an advanced emergency management center.  Perhaps, some sort of railroad personnel should be brought into that building for both planning and more effective communications/operations. 

Though, of course, simple knowledge goes far.   As the fire department jokes, now they need a high end computer to do in dispatching what Ken Little had all in his head.  

 

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6 hours ago, Trogdor said:

Personally, I’ve had two occasions to call railroad police to report dangerous trespasser activity.

I feel so much safer knowing that you took it upon yourself to report people as dangerous as trainspotters and trash collectors.  I'd give you a gold star if I could.

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6 hours ago, Trogdor said:

I can hope that cops receive training about the railroads in their specific area, but know better than to automatically assume they do.  Further, even if they do, I certainly wouldn’t assume that individual police officers are going to remember each of the dozen or two railroads and which one is where.  It might seem obvious to us to say “well, duh, that’s Metra Electric, that’s NICTD, that’s ... etc.” but I wouldn’t assume it’s obvious to everyone else. 

They are expected to know where dozen of streets (roads) are, in order to respond to calls.   What's a few more (even if they are rail roads?) 

Given, someone might not, immediately, remember where some odd half block street that only exists in one neighborhood comes in, exactly, instinctively.   But, not knowing what the I.C. is (a road that seemingly everyone who has ever been to the Southeast Side knows) is akin to not knowing what the big interstate highway is that runs through an area. 

Spend enough time in an area, and it's easy to get to know things.

 

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41 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

I feel so much safer knowing that you took it upon yourself to report people as dangerous as trainspotters and trash collectors.  I'd give you a gold star if I could.

 

If I wanted your opinion, I'd give it to you.

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3 hours ago, Devil's Advocate said:
10 hours ago, Trogdor said:

Personally, I’ve had two occasions to call railroad police to report dangerous trespasser activity.

I feel so much safer knowing that you took it upon yourself to report people as dangerous as trainspotters and trash collectors.  I'd give you a gold star if I could.

So because they are trainspotters and trash collectors he should just let them risk their lives on the tracks?

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Also, I never said anything about trainspotters.  If we're speaking of the photographers, they had professional equipment and were in an area where a fence bordered the right of way on both sides, so they really couldn't have been anywhere except directly on the tracks.

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While I agree that expecting the cop on the street to know who to call is a bridge too far, the (police) dispatcher should know where his guys are and have the requisite knowledge to be able to call up the correct (train) dispatcher in short order.  Something as simple as a color coded map laying out who to call to get the trains stopped isn't too much to have on hand near your desk.

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As sad as this is, I'm willing to bet this will turn ugly very soon.

Man linked to officers’ deaths back in court

https://wgntv.com/2018/12/27/edward-brown-court-hearing/

 

Quote

There has been some debate over whether Brown should face increased charges of manslaughter or murder.

Brown's attorney, Frank Kostouros, has said his client, who has no criminal record, should not be held responsible for the officer's deaths.

Kostouros also wants Brown's $200,000 bond reduced.  Kostouros  said he plans to file a motion to reduce that bail after Brown’s next hearing on January 14th.

If convicted on the gun charges, Brown faces up to three years in prison

 

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I had an interesting chat with a fellow passenger about the incident about a week later (I'm a daily rider, but wasn't affected directly, although trains were still delayed by 30 minutes the next morning). She thought that there should be "in this day and age" a system that automatically shut down the trains if there were people on the tracks. That would be a brilliant solution on the South Chicago branch with pedestrian crossings and center median running. She was also angry that Metra somehow couldn't have dozens of PACE (suburban bus service) buses at the ready to get people to their stations. They were just dumped off the trains with a "you're on your on from here" apparently.

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On 12/30/2018 at 8:23 PM, Metra Electric Rider said:

I had an interesting chat with a fellow passenger about the incident about a week later (I'm a daily rider, but wasn't affected directly, although trains were still delayed by 30 minutes the next morning). She thought that there should be "in this day and age" a system that automatically shut down the trains if there were people on the tracks. That would be a brilliant solution on the South Chicago branch with pedestrian crossings and center median running. 

So, she thinks there should be some sort of universal on/off switch that can shut down all trains because of something on the tracks? What if the person is supposed to be on the tracks?

How about staying off the tracks?

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On 12/30/2018 at 8:23 PM, Metra Electric Rider said:

 She was also angry that Metra somehow couldn't have dozens of PACE (suburban bus service) buses at the ready to get people to their stations. They were just dumped off the trains with a "you're on your on from here" apparently.

Yes... because every bus service I know has dozens of extra buses just hangin out, at the ready at 6pm in the evening. I mean, it isn’t rush hour or anything, right?  Those buses aren’t moving their own clientele or anything...at rush hour.:ohboy:

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On 12/28/2018 at 3:30 PM, Trogdor said:

If I wanted your opinion, I'd give it to you.

I guess that's why I recently received this book entitled "Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hall Monitor." <_<

 

On 12/28/2018 at 6:04 PM, cpotisch said:

So because they are trainspotters and trash collectors he should just let them risk their lives on the tracks?

If all he wanted to do was save their lives he could have simply spoken to them first.  Police are not neutral observers and they don't always react in a calm and rational manner.  In fact they are often hyper suspicious and prone to rapid escalation of any perceived hostility.  This is partly due to training (or lack thereof) but also due to the fact that almost anyone they encounter could be a well armed threat to them.  For that reason it's advisable to call the police more as a last resort rather than your default/universal reaction.

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Thus far, he's still only facing weapons charges.

Man linked to train deaths of 2 Chicago Police officers could be released soon

Quote

Brown was back in court Monday where prosecutors revealed he's been indicted on the two weapons charges for which he was arrested. 

Members of Brown's family, including his mother, were in the courtroom, but through his attorney, they declined to talk about the case.

“He's not alone in this world,” said Koustoros. “He has a lot of love and support from his family and friends.”

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) wanted a felony murder charge.

“We are continually disappointed with the Kim Foxx administration when the police are the victims of crime," said an FOP spokesperson. 

 

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