Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and a bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to the MBTA to gain clarity on why the Transit SWAT unit was disbanded. The team, which captured one of the Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was dissolved earlier this week.
In their letter, the Senators emphasized the important role that this unit plays in ensuring the safety of riders on the transit system. This is despite the fact that they have not been utilized much in the past few years, as they are still the most prepared unit to respond to serious incidents. This is especially true given that public transit systems are often the target for foreign and domestic acts of terror.
The Senators also shared their concern on the timing of this development. There have been previous news reports that State Police and other law enforcement groups have been denied access to use public transportation to access locations experiencing protests and large gatherings of people. While the act of peaceful protesting is the right of the people, events like these have been used by nefarious groups to inflict harm on innocent bystanders. This makes the existence of the Transit SWAT unit all the more important.
“While we do not yet have an exact reason for the disbanding of the Transit SWAT unit, I nonetheless have concerns in regard to this development,” said Senator Moore. “Even though this team is not frequently used, the role they play in keeping our transit riders safe cannot be overstated. The potential long-term impacts this may have is certainly worrying, especially as more people begin to once again use our public transportation systems. I would urge the MBTA to reconsider their decision, or at least provide the rationale behind it.”
The letter, which seeks to gain an understanding as to why the team was dissolved, was signed onto by; Senator Mark Pacheco (D-First Plymouth and Bristol), Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex), Senator Michael Brady (D-Second Plymouth and Bristol), Senator Bruce Tarr (R-First Essex and Middlesex), Senator Timilty (D-Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth), Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Worcester and Norfolk), Senator Dean Tran (R-Second Hampden and Hampshire), Senator James Welch (D-Hampden), Senator Michael Rush (D-Norfolk and Suffolk), Senator John Velis (D-Second Hampden and Hampshire), Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-First Essex) and Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Plymouth and Norfolk).