SEPTA says union’s crime figures are ‘grossly distorted’

SEPTA and its transit police union went back and forth yesterday about crime reported on the system since officers worked off the job March 21.

Transit police went on strike after working without a contract for nearly a year. The union claimed Tuesday that 20 thefts and robberies occurred between March 21 and March 23 on the Broad Street Subway and Market-Frankford Elevated Line. In a statement, SEPTA called those figures “grossly distorted.”

“This deliberate fear mongering by the FOTP’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, and dishonors their sworn oaths as police officers,” spokesman Richard Maloney said. A review of the official complaints by Metro showed three of the 20 incidents actually occurred on the system. Several others happened at retail stores or on the street.

SEPTA said there were six thefts, two robberies and one aggravated assault on the entire system between March 21 and March 23, excluding a March 21 theft that occurred before the strike.

Anthony Ingargiola, spokesman for the union, claimed in response that their latest calculations showed 15 incidents instead of 20. He insisted, however, that property crime is still up since its 219 officers hit the picket lines and were replaced by Philadelphia police and contracted private security guards.

“We have no interest in intentionally fudging the numbers. If anybody should be questioned about lying about the data it should be SEPTA,” Ingargiola said.

The two sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table today after a roughly two-hour session yesterday.

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