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PHOENIX -- During next Tuesday's special election, Phoenix voters will decide whether to give Valley Metro security officers a little more power.

Currently, officers can check to see if riders paid the fare, but they are unable to issue tickets. Instead, they have to call Phoenix police.

However, if voters give light rail security the power to write tickets, Valley Metro's Susan Tierney said, "it allows the Phoenix Police Department to focus on crimes that may be more significant."

Tierney said less than 5 percent of riders cheat the system -- roughly, a couple thousand every day.

In Tempe and Mesa, light rail security officers already have the authority to issue tickets. According to Valley Metro, Phoenix issued five fare evasion tickets in December compared to 16 in Tempe and Mesa. In November, Phoenix issued six tickets while Tempe and Mesa issued 27.

If Phoenix voters approve the change, security officers could begin issuing tickets not only for fare evaders, but also people who smoke on the train or jaywalk.

Fines range from $50 to $500, depending on how many times the person has been ticketed. Money would go the City of Phoenix.

Christina Estes, Reporter

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