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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Groping for answers on the MBTA

I don't know which is a bigger surprise -- that the MBTA has its own police academy or that there are allegations of misconduct surrounding it. Wait a minute. Am I really surprised that anything surrounding the T is run poorly?

Another week brings another federal investigation into the MBTA. First its was the National Transportation Safety Board looking into the Green Line accident caused by a texting motorman. This week it's the FBI looking into allegations of sexual misconduct involving female cadets and superior officers.

When is Smilin' Dan going to go?

I suppose the smart aleck response is the allegations are really training for what is apparently the most popular crime on the T -- groping. But the allegations under review are too serious for smart aleck responses.

While that investigation is, happily, out from under the jurisdiction of the MBTA Police, I have a bigger question -- why is there a separate training academy for T cops, which, the Globe reports, opened in 1998 and usually trains two classes of about 100 students each year for 800 hours over six months.

The answer may be this:

More than 100 police departments have sent recruits to the academy. Outside agencies pay the MBTA $3,100 per candidate.

The Globe reported on Monday the existence of yet another police training academy, this one for municipal police officers that hasn't launched a training class in more than six months. And these two are on top of training academies in Boston, some larger cities and the State Police.

As the legislative conference committee sits down to close a chasm of a fiscal 2010 state budget gap -- and the T threatens to cut 20 percent of its workforce to close its own $160 million shortfall -- isn't some consolidation in order?

Maybe we funnel all the business to the MBTA academy to head off a fare increase? And we could also keep the Green Line groper-free.

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