After a former MTS security guard makes allegations that he was fired for speaking out about safety protocol, Universal Protection Service, which contracts with MTS, admits they’ve received a handful of complaints and are making those concerns their priority. NBC 7's Steven Luke reports.
A former MTS security guard claims he was fired from his longtime job after taking safety measures into his own hands during one of his shifts.
Local Michael Medrano, 23, says he spent three years working as a transit security officer for MTS.
On Mar. 14, Medrano says he began his graveyard shift by boarding the trolley at SDSU.
Medrano says he then decided to join two other security officers at the 12th and Imperial station for safety reasons, because a recent string of incidents on the blue line had him concerned for his own safety.
Those incidents, Medrano says, include a shooting two weeks ago at the E Street and Bayfront trolley station that left him feeling uneasy on the job.
“I just felt it was unsafe that they want us to go out alone on the trolleys,” said Medrano.
At one point during the graveyard shift, Medrano says an MTS supervisor boarded the trolley. Minutes later, he says he and the other officers were called into the MTS office and reprimanded, and ultimately fired from their jobs.
“As a result, they took our badge I.D. and any transit equipment we had and told us we were relieved of our duties and we got escorted off the property,” explained Medrano.
Medrano claims it was not until the next day when a supervisor called him into work as if nothing ever happened.
“It just seemed a little shady so I just told him he could keep my stuff and I quit because I'm not going to be treated like that,” he said.
In the end, Medrano says he feels that he was fired for trying to protect himself.
“To reprimand us for taking it on ourselves to keep ourselves safe seemed like they don’t care about their employees,” he added.
Meanwhile, MTS spokesman Rob Schupp told NBC 7 the San Diego trolley system is one of the safest in the country compared to others of its size.
Schupp also says the number of serious trolley-related crimes are down nearly half of what they were in 2012.
“When you talk about the safety of people, our passengers and our employees, you look at what's happened, you look at the success of what we've done and I think the numbers show that we have a very successful operation,” Schupp told NBC 7.
In the midst of this push from some guards to change trolley patrol structure, the MTS Board of Directors received their annual security report Thursday morning.
According to MTS officials, the newly-released stats are proof that one-person security patrols are just fine. On an average shift, between 25 and 30 armed MTS security guards work solo patrols for 52 trolley stops stretching from Santee to the border.
MTS officials say new stats reveal that serious crimes, including violent attacks, have dropped nearly 50 percent in the last year as MTS added 27 more officers to their staff. However, assaults against guards themselves increased from 29 in 2011 to 36 in 2012.
Universal Protection Service, which contracts with MTS, admits they’ve received a handful of complaints and are making those concerns their priority.
As for Medrano's allegations of being reprimanded and fired, Schupp says he cannot comment on the situation since it’s a personnel matter, but says the MTS office is looking into it.
After three years on the job, Medrano insists he’s not looking for compensation. If anything, he said he hopes to raise awareness about local trolley system safety.
He says tandem patrols are needed now -- especially for those security guards who work the night shifts.
“You're not as safe as you might be led to believe you are. The trolleys aren't safe, plain and simple,” he said.
Medrano says he felt the need to speak on the behalf of other employees, who might be afraid that they'll get fired too.