June 9, 2011 was the date
for the first annual "Trucker-on-the-Train" law enforcement exercise
scheduled to take
in the Southern California area
on the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. Participating
railroads included Burlington
Pacific Railroad, Amtrak, and Metrolink. These railroads represent major
freight hauling and passenger movement capacity in Southern California
and throughout the western United States. Amtrak is our national
railroad serving most states.
first order of business
at Officer-on-the-Train events is the law enforcement briefing. A total
of 40 law enforcement officers from the BNSF Railway, Union Pacific
Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Highway Patrol, Whittier Police Department, City of Vernon Police
Department and the Orange County Sheriff's Department, were on hand to
participate on motorcycles and in cars. On
this day, the briefing duties were handled by Los Angeles County
Steve Smith, BNSF Railway Special Agent Scott Rust, and Union Pacific
Department Officer Jorge Villaescusa. This meeting and briefing took place at the
Metrolink Norwalk Station. I was assigned to ride with LASD
Officer Albert Salinas.
The exercise then continues with what is
called "directed enforcement"
which means law enforcement officers and deputies deploy at preselected
highway grade crossings. On this particular day, the area ranged
from Santa Fe Springs in Los Angeles County into Buena Park in western
Deputy Salinas knew the enforcement area quite well, so
several diferent highway grade crossings of the BNSF Railway the first
of which was at Los Nietos Road and Norwalk Boulevard. In this
area, both Amtrak and Metrolink run on BNSF rails. One BNSF
freight and one Metrolink passed while we were there. Directed
Enforcement officers were there and we saw no violations.
Next stop was Valley View Avenue and Stage Road in Buena Park.
East of this location, the BNSF mainline railroad is grade separated
for several miles. Deputy Salinas parked the car north of the
grade crossing and I took
off on foot. Aside from the Amtak Sunset train and a Surfliner,
the most interesting thing present was a memorial to someone, who, I
guess, lost their life near this spot. Again, I assume, the
person was struck by a train. If the person was a male, he was a
Raiders football fan. His loved ones do visit because you can see
a Christmas wreath and Easter eggs hanging on the chain link
fence. How sad.
A motorist in an old Ford pick-up truck had mechanical problems.
Deputy Salinas moved in positon behind the truck to protect them while
they were pushing it over the tracks. Other than the truck, we
saw no violations while we were here.
On our way to the next location, we passed by this scene (below
right). CHP is giving a man a field sobriety test. It is
legal to refuse. Have them take your blood sample. You
Deputy Salinas got a call from the
Orange County Sheriff. They
had arrested a pedestrian who decided to duck under the closed crossing
gate and cross the tracks. Officers engaged the person on th
eother side and found a gang member with a
loaded gun. Duhhhh....mb. OC Sheriff's handed the suspect
off to the LA County Sheriff Deputy Salinas. It was at this time
I was traded to BNSF Railway Special Agent Scott Rust. The put me
into the back of the BNSF SUV. It was expremely uncomfortable and
I had no way to open the window or door while Agent Rust and Metrolink
Sheriff Steve Smith spoke to a motorist. I was finally freed as
the conversation took more time than anticipated. On our way by
Rosecrans and Marquardt, I got a photo of law enforcement who had the
it was off to the races, er,
Commerce Station for the press
conference which was lightly attended by media. It was a race
against time on the very slow Interstate 5 Freeway north. My
driver wanted to exit the freeway, but I counseled him to remain on
it. It turned out to be a good idea. We got to the press
conference before starting time.