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View Full Version : Be a BNSF 'cop'


Ween
06-07-2006, 05:51 PM
It's official now:

http://www.bnsf.com/media/news/articles/2006/06/2006-06-07a.html

Ween
06-07-2006, 05:59 PM
I think I'm member #73...

VirginiaSouthern
06-07-2006, 06:25 PM
That's actually pretty cool. I'm sure many railfans would be happy to help out.

busyEMT
06-07-2006, 07:56 PM
Folks are signing up quick! I am #163.

cactus65
06-07-2006, 08:59 PM
JUst got the mail, I'm #226

bnsf sammy
06-07-2006, 11:27 PM
I'm number 424.

Slopes09
06-08-2006, 02:52 AM
Dear god! A company is actually using common sense! What is the world coming to?!?!

WembYard
06-08-2006, 03:33 AM
Nice to see the railroads doing something positive for railfans. This sort of thing has been mentioned in the UK but, as usual, nothing gets done and the enthusiast over here is still seen as nuisance rather than a valuable "extra pair of eyes".

4kV
06-08-2006, 04:51 AM
Dear god! A company is actually using common sense!

Now let's hope the railfans and foamers do the same and not call BNSF every time there is a flake of rust out of place on a box car or a weed growing too high between the rails, all in pursuit of being the hero who saves the day. I can see that happening in certain circles (Kirkwood.)

Ween
06-08-2006, 04:57 AM
I can see that happening in certain circles (Kirkwood.)<!-- / message --><!-- sig -->

Well, St Louis' self-proclaimed best known railfan has to keep his street cred high. This is the perfect way to do so...

KeithSD45
06-08-2006, 05:33 AM
Guys,

We finally got thru.

I have suggested this numerious times in my varied and numereous meetings with rail police and others. :-D

cmherndon
06-08-2006, 07:58 AM
Now let's hope the railfans and foamers do the same and not call BNSF every time there is a flake of rust out of place on a box car or a weed growing too high between the rails, all in pursuit of being the hero who saves the day. I can see that happening in certain circles

I was thinking the same thing earlier. It's best to leave this sort of thing up to professionals. Reporting every minute thing such as the aforementioned rust and weeds could create a backlash against railfans on the BNSF and possibly elsewhere. Before you know it, you'll get verbally cursed at along with being shown the universal sign of contempt from the cab every time a train passes. We don't want that now, do we?

Joe the Photog
06-08-2006, 01:05 PM
You guys are being duped. The web site says, "The Citizens for Rail Security program allows citizens to help identify suspicious activity on America's railways." Think about this guys. You don't need a card to report suspicious activity now. You just need a phone. But if you go to that web site and get that little card, all it does is give BNSF -- or someone else -- your "required" information

Name
Home Address
Phone Number
E-mail address

There is no reason to voluntarily give this information over the Internet when some of you guys might have a problem when an LEO approaches you trackside and asks to see ID. Well, now you've already given it out.

Also, if you show this card to a cop in Arkansas or Wyoming or anywhere else, it will mean absolutely nothing to him or her.The web site says nothing about what they do with that information either, but I gurantee you there is some database somewhere being set up as we speak. This is a scam and some of you guys are falling for it hook, line and sinker.



Joe

4kV
06-08-2006, 02:09 PM
You guys are being duped. The web site says, "The Citizens for Rail Security program allows citizens to help identify suspicious activity on America's railways." Think about this guys. You don't need a card to report suspicious activity now. You just need a phone. But if you go to that web site and get that little card, all it does is give BNSF -- or someone else -- your "required" information
Joe

This was the first thing I thought of yesterday, well, maybe the second. I think the first thing that came to mind is mentioned in my post above. In the rare event something needs to be called in, why do I need to be in a database to do so? If I see someone breaking into my neighbor's car, I don't need to be in Saint Louis County's database to call. In fact, I can call it in anonymously and leave it at that. I prefer to watch trains incognito. The railroads do not need to know who I am or what I am doing as long as I am doing nothing wrong. Should I be stopped and asked for this information someday, well, then I guess they'll get it, but that is how they are going to have to get it.

Christopher Muller
06-08-2006, 03:12 PM
I am a full-time employee for a police department in Minnesota and I think this would be a huge tool for not only the railroads but also for law enforcement. When I dispatch calls, we generally ask all the questions that BNSF did on the site. I'm sure the main reason all the info is stored is so that anyone that registers will make the call a lot easier. All you will have to do is tell the operator what your number is. Then they can pull up all your information. IMO, it also gives railfans a little more credit when calling in. That way they know "you know" what you are talking about. Also, when asked by an officer trackside about what the heck you are doing, that will give you a little more credability too. On the flip side, I can see a lot of people using this as an excuse to get closer to the tracks or to be in places they really shouldn't be. I think BNSF did a good job with this, it also prints some general rules to follow on the card. While this is for national examples, rules and laws vary state to state and all information may not be correct. If you take the time and do fill this out (which I think all fans that railfan the BNSF should) it could be a very useful tool. You may not see it, but in the long run we will. While I doubt I will ever need to call the number, it is still nice to have it out there. We have connections and numbers to the BNSF (and other companies) that aren't for the public so I don't know what the protocol for calling this number is, but even when you use the Law Enforcement number, it is still a complicated process. Hopefully with the issuance of id numbers, the call process will be easier and quicker. FWIW, the information that you do give them can easily be ascertained by a number of public sources online. Ultimately guys, use common sense. Also remember, even if you feel they are in the wrong, always respect your cops (and their orders). Some people still don't know what a railfan is!

busyEMT
06-08-2006, 04:43 PM
There is no reason to voluntarily give this information over the Internet when some of you guys might have a problem when an LEO approaches you trackside and asks to see ID. Well, now you've already given it out.

I believe I have shortened several encounters with city LEOs by offering my ID before they ask for it (but after they ask what I am doing). It shows I have nothing to hide (as I have not been doing anything wrong when approached), they have a right to ask for it, and if they ask me to move on, I do.

This may be the "warranty card" of railfanning, but now the Special Agents will know I am serious about reporting serious concerns.


Also, if you show this card to a cop in Arkansas or Wyoming or anywhere else, it will mean absolutely nothing to him or her.
Well, I am not going to show the card if I get pulled over for speeding. If I am questioned while railfanning, and it comes up in the course of conversation, then I will mention it. If the officer knows nothing about, they can call and ask BNSF about it.

The web site says nothing about what they do with that information either, but I gurantee you there is some database somewhere being set up as we speak. Joe

I am sure I am in a lot of databases, some voluntary, others not by choice. If a Special Agent has driven by you while railfanning, I bet your license plate and all your DL info is now in a BNSF/law enforcement database. Maybe now, they will be less likely to hassle me; or, stop and chat and let me know when the next train is coming.


Now let's hope the railfans and foamers do the same and not call BNSF every time there is a flake of rust out of place on a box car or a weed growing too high between the rails, all in pursuit of being the hero who saves the day. I can see that happening in certain circles In EMS they are called a "Ricky Rescue." No matter the minimalist level of training, they install lightbars, stock personal vehicles like a ambulance/rescue truck, and even carry medications. Not only annoying but most likely illegal.

Ween
06-08-2006, 04:50 PM
Yeah, if you guys are worried about your name, address, and phone number being out there, I guess you're anti-phone book or anti-whitepages.com. C'mon, are you guys really that paranoid?

But the problems Pat brought up initially never occured to me since it never entered my mind that I would ever entertain thinking about what he was describing. Yet there are some out there who would. It's the same small population that makes the hobby as a whole look bad...

VirginiaSouthern
06-08-2006, 05:18 PM
Shoot, I'm in the military. My name and information is already in about half a million databases anyway.

Ween
06-08-2006, 05:54 PM
Shoot, I'm in the military. My name and information is already in about half a million databases anyway.

Yeah. Thanks VA (veteran affairs...not Virginia)!!!!!

hoydie17
06-08-2006, 06:27 PM
I agree with Joe on this one. They don't need my information for me to call in a potential problem or safety hazard. They can either take it for what it's worth and respond accordingly, or not respond at all.

Just remember, if by the off chance you happen to be in an area when some sort of safety issue or incident occurs. You'll be the first person the BNSF police will come looking for, so keep that in mind, while you're signing up. You're simply making the chase that much easier for them.

Sean

VirginiaSouthern
06-08-2006, 06:32 PM
Don't need your information? They may need just that to call you for further information on the incident. I don't know if anyone has ever been witness to an auto accident before, but the cops will generally take all of your information incase they need to get back in touch with you. That's fairly standard procedure for many a law enforcement agency.

You'll be the first person the BNSF police will come looking for, so keep that in mind, while you're signing up.

I'm sorry dude, but that's just speculation right there.

trainmonster
06-08-2006, 06:55 PM
[QUOTE=Ween]Yeah, if you guys are worried about your name, address, and phone number being out there, I guess you're anti-phone book or anti-whitepages.com. C'mon, are you guys really that paranoid?QUOTE]

Yup!! Not gonna have my address and phone # all over the Internet. I did live in NJ, remember. And I don't use my real last name here, either. :wink:

When an Imperial stormtroo...oops... LEO stops me along the line, that's when they'll get my ID, why put my paranoid self out there?

Rich

Ween
06-08-2006, 08:11 PM
be the first person the BNSF police will come looking for, so keep that in mind, while you're signing up. You're simply making the chase that much easier for them.

Why would they come looking for me if I didn't do anything wrong or without any evidence? That would be like the police narrowing their search for a murder suspect outside of a Blockbuster to Blockbuster members.

IKE
06-08-2006, 08:56 PM
Personally, I'm not worried about my personal info being available, I've got nothing to hide, but at the same time, I simply don't hand out that info unless it's absolutely neccessary. I tried to get a haircut once, and they asked me for the same info. I told them sorry, you don't need that to cut my hair. Likewise, the BNSF doesn't need that for me to watch their trains.

ccaranna
06-08-2006, 09:51 PM
Ween is right, some of you are a little paranoid. (and this is coming from someone who is HIGHLY skeptical...)

You should have nothing to worry about if you give BNSF your information if you have done nothing WRONG.

OK. For example, an accident or some type of crime occurs in an area near where I live. I don't know about you, but I think if I hadn't done anything wrong and have nothing to hide then it wouldn't be a problem if they contacted me. (Innocent until proven guilty ring a bell??)

This is a good idea, as long as it's not abused like Pat said. (calling for every last thing.) Don't you think they would trust a call from someone that had taken the time to sign up, rather than some bored idiot with a cell phone that sees a phone number at a crossing gate? I think having your information handy just helps them filter out the wheat from the chaff like Christopher said.

True, all you need is a phone to report trouble, but if you are someone that has a clean record, then you should be an asset to the community and to the railroad.

Now if UP was asking railfans to sign-up, it would be a different story... :D :D

busyEMT
06-08-2006, 10:05 PM
As I was forming my thoughts, ccaranna made my point.

A phone call from a SkyWarn member that a tornado is brewing will hold more credibility than some anonymous guy driving around.

Furthermore, if something big is going down near where I am railfanning, a quick run of my license plate will reveal my name. Cross reference that with the BNSF database and less time will be wasted on me. Hopefully allowing the apprehension of criminals or preventing destruction/vandalism.

OK. For example, an accident or some type of crime occurs in an area near where I live. I don't know about you, but I think if I hadn't done anything wrong and have nothing to hide then it wouldn't be a problem if they contacted me. (Innocent until proven guilty ring a bell??)
Or maybe some people would rather be visited in person by detectives holding an aire of suspicion, rather than "risk" a phone call to collect possible eye witness info.

Ween
06-08-2006, 11:00 PM
Something else I just thought of:

The CRS officially legitimizes railfans as another layer of security. Sure, if you're not a CRS member, you can still call and report suspcious activities, but CRS makes it an official, company and nation-wide program.

Think of it this way: you know how there's been flap recently about 'no photography' with certain law enforcement communities? It'd be a pretty difficult spot for BNSF cops to give you a hard time about your hobby when you are a member of a legitimate program implemented by the company with rail security as it's purpose. The CRS program is another layer of protection against the 'no photography' crowd.

Thoughts?

WembYard
06-09-2006, 12:18 AM
It'd be a pretty difficult spot for BNSF cops to give you a hard time about your hobby when you are a member of a legitimate program implemented by the company with rail security as it's purpose. The CRS program is another layer of protection against the 'no photography' crowd.

Thoughts?

Very well put. IMO anything that can help railfanners indulge in their hobby without hassle can't be bad. The concerns regarding personal information are understandable but it is a sad fact of the times we live in that seemingly harmless hobbies cannot be followed without restriction

Joe the Photog
06-09-2006, 01:34 AM
Something else I just thought of:

The CRS officially legitimizes railfans as another layer of security.

I don't get the logic behind that thought. First off, I think the hobby is legitimate as a hobby as well as a layer of security already. But how does five minutes inputting your personal info on a web site and then printing off a card get you anything more than a card you can carrry around?

Be wary and weary when a major railroad embraces us railfans. Because I figure if they have one hand grasping ours in a handshake, there's something else in that other hand we're not aware of.


Joe

busyEMT
06-09-2006, 01:54 AM
I don't get the logic behind that thought. First off, I think the hobby is legitimate as a hobby as well as a layer of security already.

BASE jumping is a legitimate sport in the eye's of jumpers, but it is illegal and therefore, by definition not legitimate. While the bulk of railfan activity is not done illegally, for BNSF to "sanction formally or authorize", railfanning has become a more legitimate aspect of railroading.
Be wary and weary when a major railroad embraces us railfans. Because I figure if they have one hand grasping ours in a handshake, there's something else in that other hand we're not aware of.
Joe
What can they do? Place us in indentured servitude? To each their own; I for one will drink the Kool-Aid. Oh Yeah!

xrayguy
06-09-2006, 02:27 AM
With this program from BNSF they have in essence admitted that we (railfans) are here and not likely to go away. Kind of "if you can't beat em, then join em" philosophy. I think it's smart move on their part and a bit of legitimacy for the railfan.

Ween
06-09-2006, 02:48 AM
Quote:
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=6 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=alt2 style="BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset">Originally Posted by Ween
Something else I just thought of:

The CRS officially legitimizes railfans as another layer of security.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>


I don't get the logic behind that thought. First off, I think the hobby is legitimate as a hobby as well as a layer of security already. But how does five minutes inputting your personal info on a web site and then printing off a card get you anything more than a card you can carrry around?


Joe, I wasn't saying that railfanning isn't a legitimate hobby. Nobody questions that. And, yes, like I said, anybody, railfan or not, CRS member or not, can call in if they see a security violation or something out of the ordinary, thus adding a potential layer of security.

The point behind my last post is that this whole CRS thing is a company derived and sanctioned program. With CRS, railfans aren't an unspoken, assumed layer of security, we are now officially part of BNSF's strategic goal in rail security. They are including us in their plans to secure their assets and ensure that their investors investments are protected. It's a pretty big nod to the railfan community that a company would include us as an official part of their overall plan.

So why be weary? What's the fear? What are they going to do to us, really? I'm sure there will be growing pains and morons who want to be 'Johnny Lifesaver,' but when/if CRS folks start making an impact on security, you'll see the relationship between big railroad and the railfan continue to grow...

4kV
06-09-2006, 04:31 AM
Yeah, if you guys are worried about your name, address, and phone number being out there, I guess you're anti-phone book or anti-whitepages.com. C'mon, are you guys really that paranoid?

I'm not at all paranoid, I just see it as unnecessary. As Joe pointed out, all you need is a phone. If I were paranoid I wouldn't railfan at all. I don't care if the cops take my name, but I won't just give it to them for no reason. What I do is legal, has always been, better always be. I mind my business, they mind theirs.

But the problems Pat brought up initially never occured to me since it never entered my mind that I would ever entertain thinking about what he was describing. Yet there are some out there who would. It's the same small population that makes the hobby as a whole look bad...

They're out there. That's for certain.

4kV
06-09-2006, 04:34 AM
Don't need your information? They may need just that to call you for further information on the incident. I don't know if anyone has ever been witness to an auto accident before, but the cops will generally take all of your information incase they need to get back in touch with you. That's fairly standard procedure for many a law enforcement agency.

Any time I have called for various reasons, I have been asked if I want to give my name or remain anonymous. That's a fact, perhaps they do it differently here. They'll take the call, roll a car to check it out, and that is that. I've never called for an auto accident, so I can't say much about that.

hoydie17
06-09-2006, 05:22 AM
Do what you will, but I will not register myself into yet another ridiculous database just to gain recognition to further my hobby. If BNSF Police or any other RR Police want my name and address, they'll find it plenty easy to locate in almost any national database that they have access to.

That card isn't any more useful than a free order of french fries coupon at your local fast food joint.

If I see something wrong, I'm not going to dig through my glove box, or my already overcrowded wallet looking for an ID number. I'll call them, let them take care of the problem as appropriate and then they can ask questions later. That's why I have the local authorities and the RR Police phone numbers in my cell phone memory.

I'm just waiting for the first foamer to decide that the world is his to save, and get themselves or someone else hurt trying to be Superbuff.

Seriously, 99.9% of railfans are normal, safety conscious people, but that .1 percent are the fools that will believe this "membership" means they have some sort of an "all access" pass to RR property. And face it, it's the .1% of people that make the collective look bad.

Sean

Ween
06-09-2006, 05:48 AM
Sean, I'll grant you that .1% rule screwing it up for everybody!

But let's not get wrapped around the axle any more: it's not about the card. The card/certificate is pretty much useless; I haven't printed mine. But that's not the point. The point is the program being implemented by BNSF. It acknowledges this hobby as an asset to their operations, and that's a great compliment.

VirginiaSouthern
06-09-2006, 08:07 AM
Seriously, 99.9% of railfans are normal, safety conscious people, but that .1 percent are the fools that will believe this "membership" means they have some sort of an "all access" pass to RR property. And face it, it's the .1% of people that make the collective look bad.

Sean

I agree with that .1% making the collective look bad, but then again, they always have. Every group has its "slow kids".

David Telesha
06-09-2006, 05:16 PM
The point is the program being implemented by BNSF. It acknowledges this hobby as an asset to their operations, and that's a great compliment.

AMEN!

Thats all there is to it.

If I lived in BNSF territory I'd register... Maybe I will anyway if I go on a road trip in the future...

Pat Lorenz
06-10-2006, 03:59 AM
I think this is really great, it really does show how BNSF doesnt view us railfans as trouble makers, they are letting us know that they know that we know what were doing (at least 80% of the time).

I registered anyways, even though iam in UP domain but i do take BNSF trip once or twice a year now. I wish UP would do something like this.

Its not a 'get out of jail free card' if you have a run in with the cops but it certainly cant hurt you in a situation like that.

Thanks BNSF for being once again the perfect RR.

Ken Carr
06-10-2006, 03:26 PM
i'll pass on joining this merry little band of Fans. I prefer to photograph what I want, at a location I deem safe. They provide you a list of what to do and not do.
I prefer the wide open spaces of the transcon for photos but BNSF says no it much be a public location, I prefer to some time use the ROW road again no, I occasionally take photos at crossings BNSF says that fine. no photos of military trains well I find their cargo intesting so again no.
Now once they give out more information about their program then maybe. If I see a broken crossing guard, a person(s) riding or messing with a train or equipment I'll still call it in. If they don't want to accept my call there choice. Getting a printed card that you print off your PC and rules to cover their tail. I'll pass.

Joe the Photog
06-10-2006, 05:42 PM
Can someone point me to their list of rules?


Joe

Ween
06-10-2006, 06:15 PM
Do not trespass on railroad property or rights-of- way. It is illegal and dangerous and will be viewed by law enforcement as a security risk.
Makes sense.
Do not take photographs of military trains and equipment.
Makes sense as this is a program for security. Now wouldn't military movements be considered a 'high value' target? There's nothing illegal about taking photos of them...it's just asking for common sense.
Only take photographs or view trains from public locations.
Of course. Ken, this isn't saying you can't shoot in the wide-open space of the Transcon...it's saying don't trespass in order to pursue the hobby.

When taking photographs from public railroad crossings, stay at least 15 feet away from the nearest rail. This rule applies for staged "photo run- bys" as well.
This makes sense too. It's all about liability. I'm not sure how much either side of the tracks the railroad owns, but 15' is probably a safe distance, enough that they can't get sued. In other words, stay off the tracks.
Cooperate fully with railroad police or other law enforcement officers when contacted.
Duh.

If suspicious activities are noted, report it to railroad or local law enforcement officers. DO NOT TAKE ANY FURTHER ACTION!
Don't be 'Johnny Lifesaver.'

So there are the rules that are causing the heartache. If you would have problems following them, then maybe you should re-examine how you go about pursuing the hobby. There's nothing in there that isn't common sense or practical.

J
06-10-2006, 07:59 PM
I'm just waiting for the first foamer to decide that the world is his to save, and get themselves or someone else hurt trying to be Superbuff.

Seriously, 99.9% of railfans are normal, safety conscious people, but that .1 percent are the fools that will believe this "membership" means they have some sort of an "all access" pass to RR property. And face it, it's the .1% of people that make the collective look bad.
Sean
The comments on this thread (including those above) are not confined to the railfan community. Railroads have debated the benefits of enlisting informed fans to assist and conclusions differ between companies (and within companies). Here are two examples - neither are BNSF

I continue to believe that properly structured this can be a help as in my opinion vandalism is our biggest threat, and as a practical matter zero tolerance policies only work when and where there are people around to enforce them.

They will use this duty as their excuse for unlimited and un warranted access to rail property. Giving them this opportunity opens up a whole new spectrum of concerns from individuals on teh property without proper protection and knowledge of safety practices. We are not in favor of this solicitation for railfan access.

As a railroad emplolyee you already have knowledge and access to railroad police but others may benefit from this program. As for your concerns about submitting information, you might consider that railroad police do not have the time or resources to do something naughty with this database and that the serial number is probably just a credibility check when something is called in.

J
06-10-2006, 08:00 PM
disregard - mispost

devights
07-24-2006, 12:07 PM
For some reason the page won't load, anyone know if BNSF pulled the plug due to too many happy railfans?

Frederick
07-24-2006, 04:35 PM
No. It's still there.

SD70MACMAN
07-25-2006, 06:16 AM
Thanks BNSF for being once again the perfect RR.

Well, I'd have to agree that at least the BN part of that statement is correct... ;)

IMO I think this is a pretty cool idea. I agree that its not a "get out of free card" but anything can help against the "non-believers". Also, don't try and use it as a "get out..." card, listen to BNSF police (sorta) and the real ones if they want you to move. Don't be that .1%!

If we show BNSF that we railfans are helpful (ie not calling for everyhting) and solving some potential problems , maybe this will lead to better things. Maybe some day photo-ID, plastic badges will be issued by the railroad.

I also see some potential problems with this. I believe J's comments are true, that the railroad and their legal department probably thought long and hard about this. I bet there will be plenty of people out there that will use this as a free tresspass card. Again, hopefully this program will go well and show the big RR's that we're not totally insane :-D

Anywhoo, thats my $.02
~Mike