Volunteer track watchers form RAT Pack under Nevada sheriff to curb trespassing on railroad rights-of-way

RELATED TOPICS: WEST | PEOPLE | SAFETY
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RENO, Nev. — A Nevada sheriff’s office is asking the public to help catch trespassers.

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office has created the Rail Auxiliary Team, or “RAT Pack,” an all-volunteer force that keeps an eye on the rails Washoe County and in nearby Storey County.

Richard Gent, Rail Auxiliary Team Leader for the sheriff’s office and state coordinator for Operation Lifesaver, tells Trains News Wire there are about 120 volunteers.

The volunteers go through an 8-hour course to learn about railroad operations, safety and how to effectively report suspicious activity along the rails. Gent says volunteers will periodically check crossings and the tracks during the course of their day and call local law enforcement and the railroad if they see something out-of-the-ordinary. The volunteers are reminded that they themselves should never go on railroad property. The volunteers can also participate in monthly education opportunities.

Gent says the program has been successful. Prior to the establishment of the program, Washoe County had about three trespasser-related incidents annually; now it’s down to one, according to Gent.

“Railroad special agents (can’t be everywhere), they’re few and far between,” Gent says. “If you have a train traveling at 60 miles per hour going towards a bridge with a trespasser on it, every second counts.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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