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No mirrored shades, earphones allowed on MARTA’s armed security guards

marta police

MARTA police officers are state certified and have all the authority of a state police force. Their mission is to protect riders, which is one reason MARTA hires a contractor to secure revenue collections. Credit: keywordsking.com

By David Pendered

MARTA could not be more clear that no flashy attire or distracting headsets will be tolerated on the armed guards MARTA intends to hire to provide security for the transport of fare box revenues. Not even the cliché mirror sunglasses made famous in the movie, Cool Hand Luke, are to be allowed.

The rule about sunglasses is right there in the invitation for bids:

  • “Eyeglasses and sunglasses must maintain a professional appearance and style. No multicolored or unprofessional looking frames. No mirrored lenses are authorized. An exception of this standard is prescription lenses or polarizing for medical reasons only with supporting documentation and prior approval from the Contract Administrator.”

Appearance is so critical in MARTA’s IFB for a private security contractor that the list of 12 requirements regarding appearance is greater than the number of criteria for firearms (four criteria), and personnel requirements (nine criteria).

MARTA certainly has the capacity to provide its own in-house armed security guards to watch over the transport of fare box revenues.

MARTA’s Police Department has the full authority of a state police force. The department has an authorized strength of 400 sworn officers and more than 50 civilians. The staff is the ninth largest police force in the state, according a report on MARTA’s website. The officers conduct standard patrols, plain-clothed operations, and a fully functional K-9 patrol.

The department’s mission is to deter crime and handle situations that do arise. As such, providing security for the transport of fare box revenues is outside its wheelhouse.

MARTA currently has a contractor that provides armed security. The contract recurs on a regular basis and is due to be reissued, a MARTA spokesperson said Tuesday.

Bids are due Jan. 22 and are to be opened Jan. 23, MARTA records show.

marta police

MARTA police officers must comply with a code of appearance and MARTA has set similar standards for it contract armed guards that provide security for the transport of farebox revenues. Credit: keywordsking.com

The appearance section specifies everything from how the insignias that designate rank will be worn, to the color of shoes and rain gear. The requirements recognize that the guards will be highly visible to passengers and must present a professional image.

Here are a few highlights from this section of the IFB:

  • “All uniforms will be worn as a matched pair; no mix-matching different styles of uniform clothing to make a complete uniform for duty wear. Deviations will be considered to be out of uniform and the post shall be deemed opened.
  • “Black in color dress shoes, safety shoes, or boots are authorized for wear with the Class A or B uniform. Only black in color shoe/ boot laces will be authorized. Athletic style shoes of any color are not authorized.
  • “During inclement weather conditions, black in color baseball style or trooper style winter hat s may be worn with either Class A/B uniform.
  • “Due to safety reasons, Officers shall not wear listening devices i.e., headphones, radio, MP3, CD, DVD, computer style headphones during the performance of their assigned duties – only on an authorized break, off post and out of public view. Cell phone earphones/listening devices e.g. blue-tooth may not be worn.
  • “Males must be clean-shaven (a mustache is permitted but neatly trimmed at all times) and well-groomed including a neatly trimmed haircut. Earrings on male security officer are not permitted.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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1 Comment

  1. Muriel Dreamer January 18, 2018 1:58 pm

    This is such a non-story. Protecting revenue collection is completely separate from law enforcement on MARTA, and this has been a recurring contract for decades. Slow news day? Lazy columnist?Report


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