SEPTA: Striking cops putting out bogus crime info

Posted: March 29, 2012

NEGOTIATORS for SEPTA and transit police are to meet for a second straight day of bargaining Thursday, after three hours of talks Wednesday.

The strike by 219 transit police enters its eighth day Thursday.

Meanwhile, as negotiators met privately at the Ballard Spahr law firm that assists SEPTA in labor talks, the transit agency and its police traded accusations over the strike's effect on public safety.

SEPTA challenged claims by the striking cops that crimes have increased at SEPTA stations and vehicles during the strike. Most of the crimes cited by the union's spokesman actually happened at nearby stores, SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said.

"This deliberate fear-mongering by the [transit police's] hired PR representative, distributing grossly distorted crime statistics to the media, is a disservice to the officers of the SEPTA Transit Police and Philadelphia Police," Maloney said. Only four of 20 cited crimes happened on SEPTA property, and one of those occurred before the strike began, he said.

Transit police spokesman Anthony Ingargiola acknowledged that police reports showed that many of the crimes did not happen on SEPTA property, but he said the nearby properties typically were protected by transit police, too.

"Whether these numbers are 100 percent accurate or 95 percent accurate or 50 percent accurate, there's no denying that crimes are up," Ingargiola said.

The main sticking point appears to be a 35-cents-an-hour difference in a proposed "certification payment" to police. The cops seek a 50-cents-an-hour payment for each officer; SEPTA is offering 15 cents an hour.

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