In October 1968, legislation was passed (Chapter 664 of the Acts of 1968, amended by Chapter 829 of the Acts of 1970 and Chapter 329 of the Acts of 1993) which created the MBTA Police Department (hereafter referred to as the MBTA Transit Police Department or the MBTA Transit Police) under the provisions of Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.), Chapter 31. The first full-time MBTA Transit Police Officers were hired on December 9, 1968. Chapter 664 of the Acts of 1968 (amended by Chapter 829 of the Acts of 1970 and Chapter 329 of the Acts of 1993): established a Police Department under the supervision of a Police Officer to be known as a Chief of Police; provided that all Police Officers except for the positions of the Chief, Superintendent or Major would be subject to Chapter 31; provided that all Police Officers would have, within the territorial limits of the authority, the powers and duties conferred or imposed upon Police Officers of cities and towns by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 41, Section 98; provided MBTA Transit Police Officers additional powers of Railway Police Officers under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 159, Section 93; and provided that MBTA Transit Police Officers have the same authority on city or town property as they have on MBTA property. Therefore, MBTA Transit Police Officers have full police powers within the territorial limits of the Authority.
The MBTA Transit Police were directly involved with the bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon, and the subsequent apprehension of the suspects Dzhokar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Transit Police officers responded to the explosions to assist and facilitate with the treatment and evacuation of many runners and spectators that were injured in the blasts. Transit Police Explosive Detection and K9 officers are credited with helping clear the many items and backpacks that were left behind by the injured and those who fled the area, as they were each treated as a potential bomb. Transit officers were also tasked with assisting in a total halt in service of the MBTA. The MBTA Transit Police Crime Scene Services Unit worked closely with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in reviewing and archiving video surveillance to assist in the investigation and apprehension of the suspects.
The MBTA Transit Police Department has jurisdiction and full police authority in all of the 175 cities and towns that comprise the MBTA service area. Outside the 175 cities and towns, the Transit Police exercises street railway police powers on the vehicles, properties and rights of way that comprise the Commuter Rail System. The Transit Police promotes safety and security throughout Greater Boston and eastern Massachusetts, working with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The MBTA Transit Police Department provides police services to patrons and employees of the Authority on MBTA property and vehicles.
Enforcement of transit-related laws off MBTA property, such as writing parking tickets at bus stops, is shared with municipal police departments, and the Massachusetts State Police on Massport and DCR property.
There are four geographic service areas and a Headquarters service area. A Lieutenant commands each TPSA. The four geographical service areas are responsible to staff the patrol beats of their respective areas. Each geographical TPSA includes Sergeants and Police Officers assigned to foot and vehicle patrol. The Headquarters commander is responsible for communications, prisoner processing and lodging, the Court Case Management Unit, which includes property, drugs, and evidence control functions.TPSA 1
Transit Police Service Area (TPSA) 1 is under the command of a Lieutenant Commander. TPSA 1 Sergeants and Officers patrol the area of downtown Boston and the Blue Line. They patrol and respond to calls at the following subway stations; Orange Line: Haymarket, State Street, Downtown Crossing, Chinatown, New England Medical, Back Bay; Red Line: Charles/MGH, Park Street, Downtown Crossing, South Station; Green Line: Haymarket, Government Center, Park Street, Boylston, Arlington, Copley, Prudential. They respond to any bus, commuter boat or Silver Line call in this area.TPSA 2
Transit Police Service Area (TPSA) 2 is under the command of a Lieutenant Commander. TPSA 2 Sergeants and Officers patrol Northwest Massachusetts. They patrol and respond to calls at the following subway stations: North Station, Community College, Sullivan Square, Wellington, Malden, Oak Grove, Science Park, Lechmere, Kendall/MIT, Central, Harvard, Porter, Davis and Alewife; Blue Line: Bowdoin, Government Center, State Street, Aquarium, Maverick, Airport, Wood Island, Orient Heights, Suffolk Downs, Beachmont, Revere Beach, Wonderland. They respond to all bus and commuter rail calls in this area.TPSA 3
Transit Police Service Area (TPSA) 3 is under the command of a Lieutenant Commander. TPSA 3 Sergeants and Officers patrol Southeast Massachusetts. They patrol and respond to calls at the following Red Line subway stations: Broadway, Andrew, JFK/UMass, Savin Hill, Fields Corner, Shawmut, Ashmont, North Quincy, Wollaston, Quincy Center, Quincy Adams and Braintree. Rapid Transit High Speed Line that operates from Ashmont Station to Mattapan Station. Silver Line stations: Dudley Square, Lenox St., Massachusetts Ave., Worcester Square, Newton St., Union Park St., E. Berkeley St., Herald St. They also respond to all bus, commuter boat and commuter rail calls in this area.TPSA 4
Transit Police Service Area (TPSA) 4 is under the command of a Lieutenant Commander. TPSA 4 Sergeants and Officers patrol Southwest Massachusetts. They patrol and respond to calls at the following subway stations: Mass Ave, Ruggles, Roxbury Crossing, Jackson Square, Stony Brook, Green Street and Forest Hills. They are also responsible for the B, C, D and E Green Lines. They respond to all bus and commuter rail calls in this area.TPSA Headquarters
Transit Police Service Area (TPSA) HQ is under the command of a Deputy Chief of Patrol, and consists of Dispatch Operations, Booking Operations, Court Case Management and the Detail Administration office. TPSA HQ Sergeants and Officers are responsible for dispatching units, report taking, booking and custody of all prisoners, evidence control and property control.
At the direction of the Patrol Operations Division Commander, The Special Operations Unit is responsible for providing the Department tactical support, the handling of situations involving explosives and the handling of situations involving Hazardous Material. The Special Operations Unit is composed of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) and the Explosive Detection Unit (EDU). A Lieutenant commands the Special Operations Unit.
At the direction of the Special Operation Unit Commander, the Special Operations Team (SOT) is responsible for the tactical support to the Patrol Force during hazardous incidents and/or preplanned raids. Upon arrival at a designated SOT event, the ranking or senior SOT Police Officer assumes command of the scene.
At the direction of the Special Operation Unit Commander, the Explosive Detection Unit employs specialized highly trained officers and Explosive Detection Canines to handle situations involving explosives and related incidents. The Explosive Detection Unit responds to all bomb threats, suspicious items, abandoned items, hazardous devices/conditions and emergencies on properties and vehicles owned, utilized, operated by, or in the control of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The Explosive Detection Unit also renders mutual aid to any city or town when needed.
At the direction of the Patrol Operations Division Commander, the Department's Crisis Negotiation Team responds to any hostage or barricaded person(s) situation. The mission of the team is to gather intelligence and defuse potentially life-threatening situations through the use of proven verbal management techniques.
The Department's Motorcycle Police Officers are responsible for providing strategic patrols to deal with special situations and events. The increased mobility of a motorcycle enables Motorcycle Officers to move easily through heavy traffic, thus becoming flexible rapid response units even under extreme traffic conditions.
The Transit Police K-9 Unit has the Department's patrol dogs. While assigned on a daily basis to one of the Transit Police Service Area's (TPSA's), the K-9's provide the Department as a whole with specially trained police officer/K-9 teams. The K-9 unit consists exclusively of patrol trained dogs. Many of these dogs are also cross-trained as narcotics detection dogs. K-9 teams undergo an intensive sixteen week training program to become certified. This training consists of obedience, tracking, searching, and apprehension. Narcotics certification takes another eight weeks. Once certified, K-9 teams perform regular patrol functions throughout the transit system as well as handling special calls for the K-9, such as responding to building break-ins, tracking suspects, locating evidence, crowd control and drug searches. The K-9 Unit is also deployed to assist the Special Operations Team in the apprehension of suspects.
The Civil Disturbance Unit was deactivated at the beginning of 2012.
To support the MBTA Transit Police Department in the fight against terrorism and to protect the system and keep the ridership safe; the MBTA Transit Police has a full-time Intelligence Unit. The MBTA Transit Police Intelligence Unit is responsible for coordinating the gathering, recording and sharing of intelligence information relating to terrorism that affects transit systems worldwide. The Unit disseminates regular intelligence alerts and bulletins which contain information on matters of interest to MBTA Transit Police personnel with regard to terrorism and transit security. The MBTA Transit Police Intelligence Unit works in conjunction with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Commonwealth Fusion Center and the Boston Police Department's Intelligence Unit and meets daily for intelligence sharing. Transit Police Detectives are assigned full-time to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The Intelligence Unit utilizes a great number of sources at the federal, state and local levels to collect information on possible terrorism and significant incidents that occur on other transit systems. Additionally, the Intelligence Unit networks directly with various railroad law enforcement and transit system officials to share and record unusual occurrences that may relate to railroad infrastructures and transit systems nationwideAnti-Terrorism Hotline
Established by the Intelligence Unit, the hotline serves as a place where concerned citizens can call and report suspicious activity related to terrorism. All reports are investigated by the Intelligence Unit and if need be are forwarded to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The Criminal Investigations Unit is responsible for investigating crimes and incidents that occur on MBTA property and within MBTA Transit Police jurisdiction, including commuter rail incidents. The Unit conducts all death investigations in conjunction with the District Attorneys' Offices and has primary jurisdiction for all criminal acts perpetrated on the MBTA Transit System. The Unit is supported in its mission by Crime Scene Services. Additionally, the Criminal Investigations Unit has Detectives assigned to the Boston Police Department's Youth Violence Strike Force (gang unit) and numerous other local agencies on various investigative initiatives.
Crime Scene Services is responsible for processing all crime scenes. Detectives recover latent fingerprints, sketch and photograph scenes and recover physical evidence for scientific processing and prosecution.
The Department's Juvenile Detectives are responsible for coordinating the interaction and handling of juvenile offenders, their parents or guardians, and juvenile enforcement programs. The Juvenile Detectives also participate in community outreach efforts toward juveniles.
The Crime Analysis Unit is responsible for studying the statistics, rates, flows, and types of crimes being committed on MBTA property or in MBTA vehicles. The crime analysis unit puts out weekly crime reviews, bulletins, and an arrest log. Also, the crime analysis unit creates a monthly crime statistics report. This and all other reports and reviews are given to every sworn officer. Patrol services and Criminal Investigations section both use the crime analysis unit to help them determine efficient policing strategies.
The Internal Security Section is responsible for internal security investigations within the Authority, with particular attention focused on revenue security. They are also responsible for the investigation of all MBTA employee-related criminal activity (excluding MBTA Transit Police employees). Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of their activities and investigations, personnel assigned to this function will report solely and directly to the Investigative Services Division Commander.
After a rash of indecent sexual assaults on the Green Line in 2007 and 2008, detectives from the Criminal investigations Section began riding Green Line trains in plain clothes. Female detectives pose as patrons and have had success in catching sex offenders in the act.
Beginning in January 2008, select officers from the patrol section have been assuming their duties in plain clothes. Their main goal is to catch patrons who intentionally evade fare. This operation has nearly doubled the amount of patrons cited for evading fare. During these fare evasion stops, officers have arrested numerous suspects for other offenses including drugs violations, outstanding warrants, and illegal possession of firearms.
As of August 5, 2006, the local media reported the MBTA Police could merge with the Massachusetts State Police due to budgetary and staffing concerns. The union which represents the MBTA Transit Police supports this plan citing the difficulty the 257-member force has providing security for a transit system that spans 175 cities and towns in the state. They also cite a rider to officer ratio of 5,058 passengers per transit officer, far greater than the national average of 1,759 passengers per transit officer. The union reasons that after a merger, the existing MBTA officers could form a new State Police troop concentrating on providing security for inner-city Boston subway and bus systems, while state police officers could concentrate on commuter rail stations, T parking and MBTA routes outside of the city. The merger would have an effect on pay scales as the state police force has a base salary $24,000 greater than the $48,000 base salary of a Transit Police officer. The union representing state police officers opposes the merger citing different training methods and selection processes for officers and extra competition for promotion opportunities.