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Compliance with transit-equipment and operations guidelines, FTA financing initiatives, private-sector programs, and labor or environmental standards relating to transit operations are some of the legal issues and problems unique to transit agencies.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Legal Research Digest 58: Policing and Public Transportation provides a comprehensive analysis of constitutional issues and summarizes current laws and practices that apply to policing by public transportation agencies.

Supplemental to the Digest is Appendix A: Agreements, Policies, Reports, and Other Documents Provided by Public Transportation Authorities for the Report.

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Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Policing and Public Transportation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26652.

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Publication Info

58 pages | 8.5 x 11 |  DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/26652
Chapters skim
TCRP LRD 58: Policing and Public Transportation 1-1
CONTENTS 2-2
CONTENTS Continued 3-3
CONTENTS Continued 4-4
POLICING AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION 5-4
INTRODUCTION 5-4
PART I Civil Rights Claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983, Prerequisites for Liability of Public Transportation Authorities, Qualified Immunity of Police Officers, and the Effect of a Police Officer s Mistake of Fact or Law on Liability under 1983 5-4
I. POLICING BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS CLAIMS UNDER 42 U.S.C. 1983 5-4
A. Introduction 5-5
B. Persons Potentially Liable in a 1983 Action 6-5
C. Concurrent Jurisdiction of Federal and State Courts of 1983 Actions 6-6
D. Elements a Plaintiff must Prove in a 1983 Action 7-6
II. PREREQUISITES FOR LIABILITY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES IN 1983 ACTIONS 7-6
A. Liability of a Public Transportation Authority for a Claim Caused by a Policy or Custom of a Public Transportation Authority that Violates 1983 7-8
B. Liability of a Public Transportation Authority under 1983 for Deliberate Indifference 9-9
III. WHETHER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HAVE QUALIFIED IMMUNITY TO 1983 CLAIMS 10-9
A. Elements of the Qualified Immunity Defense 10-12
B. Whether Qualified Immunity Exists when a Reasonable Officer would or should Have Recognized that Extreme Circumstances attendant a Defendant s Arrest or Confinement likely Violate the Constitution 13-13
IV. WHETHER A POLICE OFFICER S MISTAKE OF FACT OR LAW IS A VIOLATION OF THE FOURTH AMENDMENT 14-14
PART II Liability under 1983 for Alleged False Arrest or False Imprisonment, Unlawful Searches and Seizures, Use of Excessive Force, Malicious Prosecution or Abuse of Process, Invasion of Privacy, or Failure of an Officer to Intervene to Prevent Another Officer s Civil Rights Violations 15-14
V. LIABILITY UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS FOR FALSE ARREST OR FALSE IMPRISONMENT 15-14
A. Required Elements to Prove False Arrest or False Imprisonment 15-14
B. An Arrest Compared to an Investigative Stop 15-15
C. Whether a Finding of Probable Cause for an Arrest Precludes a 1983 Claim for False Arrest 16-16
VI. LIABILITY UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS FOR UNLAWFUL SEARCHES AND SEIZURES OF PROPERTY 17-16
A. Whether a Search of a Person or a Person s Property Is Consensual 17-17
B. The Exclusionary Rule and Exceptions to the Rule 18-17
C. The Attenuation Doctrine 18-19
D. The Special Needs Doctrine 20-21
E. Whether a Fare Sweep Is Constitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments 22-23
F. Whether Video Surveillance of Persons in a Public Space Violates the Fourth Amendment 24-23
VII. LIABILITY UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS FOR THE USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE 24-23
A. Whether the Force Used Was Objectively Unreasonable 24-23
B. Factors that Determine Whether the Force Used Was Excessive 24-24
C. Use of Excessive Force and Qualified Immunity 25-25
VIII. LIABILITY UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS FOR MALICIOUS PROSECUTION OR ABUSE OF PROCESS 26-25
A. Elements of a 1983 Action for Malicious Prosecution 26-25
B. Elements of a 1983 Action for Malicious Abuse of Process 26-26
IX. LIABILITY UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS FOR VIOLATING AN INDIVIDUAL S POSSESSORY AND/OR PRIVACY RIGHTS IN PERSONAL PROPERTY 27-26
A. Individuals Possessory Rights in their Personal Property under the Fourth Amendment 27-27
B. Right to Privacy in Personal Property under the Fourth Amendment 28-28
C. Due Process Requirements of the Fourth Amendment that Apply to the Seizure and/or Disposal of Personal Property 29-29
X. LIABILITY UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS FOR A POLICE OFFICER S FAILURE TO INTERVENE TO PREVENT ANOTHER POLICE OFFICER FROM VIOLATING AN INDIVIDUAL S CIVIL RIGHTS 30-29
A. Liability of a Police Officer for Failure to Intervene 30-30
B. Liability of a Transportation Authority for Failure to Train a Police Officer 31-31
PART III Liability in 1983 Actions for Denial of Due Process or Denial of the Equal Protection of the Law 32-31
XI. LIABILITY FOR DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS UNDER THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS 32-31
A. Due Process Claims under 1983 for Violating an Accused s Right to a Fair Trial 32-31
B. Section 1983 Claims for Denial of Procedural Due Process 32-32
C. Section 1983 Actions Challenging Laws for Being Unconstitutionally Vague or Overbroad 33-33
XII. LIABILITY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES IN 1983 ACTIONS FOR THE DENIAL OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW BASED ON DISPARATE TREATMENT OR DISPARATE IMPACT 34-33
A. Liability for Disparate Treatment 34-33
B. Selective Prosecution in Violation of the Equal Protection Clause 34-34
C. Liability for Disparate Impact 35-35
D. Liability for Racial Profiling 36-36
XIII. LIABILITY UNDER TITLE VI OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 FOR DISPARATE TREATMENT OR DISPARATE IMPACT 37-36
A. Introduction 37-36
B. Liability of Public Transportation Authorities for Disparate Treatment 37-37
C. Liability of Public Transportation Authorities for Disparate Impact 38-37
PART IV Liability of Public Transportation Authorities in 1983 Actions on Behalf of Homeless Persons 38-37
XIV. LIABILITY UNDER THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT IN 1983 ACTIONS CHALLENGING LAWS DIRECTED AT THE HOMELESS 38-39
PART V Policing and 1983 Claims Arising under the Second Amendment 40-39
XV. THE SECOND AMENDMENT AND WHETHER PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES MAY REGULATE OR PROHIBIT THE POSSESSION OF FIREARMS 40-39
A. Whether Public Transportation Authorities May Regulate or Prohibit the Carrying of Firearms in or on their Facilities 40-40
B. Section 1983 Claims Arising out of Interstate Travel with a Firearm 41-41
PART VI Liability of a Public Transportation Authority as a Common Carrier for Negligent Policing 42-41
XVI. WHETHER A PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY AS A COMMON CARRIER IS SUBJECT TO A HIGHER STANDARD OF CARE IN ITS POLICING 42-42
PART VII Public Transportation Authorities and Public Health and Safety 43-42
XVII. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES 43-42
A. Federal Agencies Orders during the COVID-19 Pandemic Requiring the Wearing of Face Masks when Using Public Transportation 43-43
B. Compliance with State and Local Face Mask Mandates 44-44
PART VIII Public Transportation Authorities Effective Use of Public Relations, Law Enforcement Organization and Contractual Structures, and Administration of Law Enforcement and Training 45-44
XVIII. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES EFFECTIVE USE OF COMMUNITY POLICING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS 45-45
XIX. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATION AND CONTRACTUAL STRUCTURES, INCLUDING INTER-AGENCY AND INTER-FORCE AGREEMENTS 46-45
XX. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES AGREEMENTS AND STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE ADMINISTRATION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND TRAINING 46-45
A. Agreements and Intergovernmental Agreements for Police Assistance Services 46-47
B. Memorandum of Understanding for Police Services 48-47
C. Model Policy for Enhanced Transit Policing 48-47
PART IX Best Practices for Policing by Public Transportation Authorities 48-47
XXI. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES BEST PRACTICES FOR POLICING 48-47
A. Best Practices for Policing Stations, Vehicles, and Other Property 48-48
B. Best Practices to Consider regarding Fare Collection and the Prevention of Fare Evasion 49-50
CONCLUSION 51-52
APPENDIX A: Agreements, Policies, Reports, And Other Documents Provided By Public Transportation Authorities For The Report 53-54
TCRP ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 55-56

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