On the afternoon of Thursday, May 10, two Amtrak police officers arrived on a bluff overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon and railroad tracks near the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard and La Costa Avenue.
Amtrak officers Robert Billings and Ken Wolf, outfitted with badges and guns and with a bomb-sniffing canine, were on routine patrol. They had pulled off the road because they had seen someone walking on the tracks. They realized it was a Department of Fish and Game officer who had walked about a half mile down the tracks to cite and escort out a person who had been illegally fishing in the protected waters of the lagoon.
While waiting about a half hour to make sure the Fish and Game officer safely returned to her vehicle, the Amtrak officers contacted an oncoming train so the conductor would be aware of the situation. Upon passing, the conductor reported that the Fish and Game officer was spotted near the water, at the bridge over the lagoon.
Amtrak employs 26 police officers west of Chicago. They move all over the western U.S., patrolling trains, tracks, and stations. In California, they have jurisdiction on Amtrak trains, including the tracks they travel on. In North County, where the tracks are owned by the North County Transit District, the sheriff’s department is contracted to cite trespassers.
Earlier in the morning, Billings had ridden the train to Los Angeles and back before starting his coastal track patrol. “We're like the air marshals for train travel,” he said.