SEPTA enhances safety with new enforcement programme

Posted: 26 June 2024 | | No comments yet

SEPTA will reintroduce enforcement of quality-of-life violations starting 1July 2024, with Transit Police issuing court-backed Code Violation Notices to enhance safety and customer experience.

SEPTA enhances safety with new enforcement programme

Credit: SEPTA

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has announced the return of an enforcement programme aimed at addressing quality-of-life violations to improve safety and the overall customer experience. Starting 1 July 2024, SEPTA Transit Police will begin issuing Code Violation Notices (CVNs) for low-level offenses such as alcohol consumption, public urination, smoking, littering and other similar violations.

Under the new policy, offenders will receive a ticket from Transit Police, with a copy sent to the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Administrative Review (OAR). Fines will range from $25 to $150, and offenders will have the option to pay the fine or request a court date. The OAR will monitor unpaid fines, and habitual offenders may face a ban from SEPTA properties.

“The shift to Code Violation Notices demonstrates our commitment to stepping up enforcement of quality-of-life offenses,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “These violations are often the subject of customer complaints and can be associated with more serious crimes. Our customers and employees deserve to feel safe when they are traveling on SEPTA.”

Since 2019, SEPTA Transit Police has issued Administrative Enforcement Notices (AENs) for similar violations. However, AENs, which carry fines but are not enforced by the courts, were found to be ineffective in deterring behaviours that negatively impact SEPTA customers.

“Code Violation Notices are legal instruments backed by the courts,” stated SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson. “With this change, SEPTA is sending a clear message to would-be offenders: If you commit an offense on SEPTA property, you will be held accountable.”

The CVN policy is part of SEPTA’s broader efforts to enhance safety and security. SEPTA Transit Police are increasing visible patrols across the system, with more officers strategically deployed at stations and on trains, trolleys and buses. Officers are supported by a new Virtual Patrol Unit, which leverages SEPTA’s extensive surveillance camera network to dispatch officers effectively.

In addition to these measures, SEPTA remains committed to expanding its police force. Recruitment and retention efforts have led to sustained growth over the past year, with the number of sworn officers rising from 196 at the end of 2022 to the current 230, the highest in years. SEPTA plans to continue hiring more officers, potentially exceeding budgeted headcount to further bolster safety and security. These initiatives have contributed to a 45% reduction in serious crimes on the system during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.