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metro motion safety

Mayor Bass Directs Surge of Law Enforcement Personnel on Metro Buses, Rail Cars and Stations, Motion to be Introduced with Metro Leaders to Make System Safer

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LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass yesterday directed more law enforcement to be visible, present and responsive on Metro buses, trains and stations. The Mayor today was joined by members of the Metro Board of Directors in introducing a motion to make Metro safer for riders and operators. The motion is expected to be considered at the next Metro Board of Directors full meeting. 

“Yesterday, I directed a surge of law enforcement officers out on the system to address the recent uptick in violence on our Metro system. We are taking decisive action so that the people of Los Angeles feel safe on Metro buses, trains and in stations,” said Mayor Bass

“We have a responsibility to each and every rider and bus driver: they have to feel safe on Metro. Our law enforcement contracts are essential to safety, but they don’t do anyone any good if officers are not riding our trains and buses,” said Metro Vice Chair and LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “I appreciate Mayor Bass for bringing this proposal forward and stand with her on this law enforcement surge.”

“These proposed actions, including an increase in security presence on Metro, is a necessary step in restoring safety and confidence in our system,” said Metro Board Director and Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian.  

“I’m glad to stand here today with other Metro Board leaders who also aim to urgently improve public safety for our riders and employees. Despite the safety resources we’ve allocated, there continues to be a very real and unacceptable level of violence, drug use, and a blatant disregard for the law and our code of conduct,” said Metro Board Director and Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “We certainly won’t be able to simply arrest our way out of Metro’s public safety challenges. But, law enforcement is an absolutely essential ingredient that Metro needs to bring order back to our system. Even one incident occurring on our buses and rails is one incident too many.”

“The safety of Metro passengers and employees is our top priority, and we must take every measure to protect them against any acts of violence,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents the First District. “First, we must increase the number of Metro safety personnel, like our transit security officers and transit ambassadors, on our trains and buses and at our rail and bus stations, and we must finalize retrofitting our entire bus fleet with reinforced physical barriers to better protect bus operators. We also need to make investments to address the root causes of many of these assaults – individuals suffering from untreated mental illness and substance use dependencies, which means expanding our healthcare and substance abuse treatment programs.”

“As we work to build out a world class transportation system, increasing rider and transit operator safety has to be our number one priority,” said Metro Board Director and LA City Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky. “The steps that Board Chair Bass announced today aren’t just about reacting to crime; they’re about preempting it, and building a system that is safe for all Angelenos.”

“Nothing is more important to Metro than the safety of our employees and riders,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “In March, with more than 25 million riders, we had 5.22 crimes against persons per 1 million boardings, which is a 40.1% improvement year over year. But our riders and employees deserve more and improving statistics aren’t comforting to the victims of crime and their families nor do they address whether people feel safe on the system,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “As a result of Chair Bass's direction, riders will see an increased visible presence of uniformed personnel on our system, which will help us enforce the rules and reduce crime. We thank Chair Bass, and the entire Metro Board for their leadership on this critical issue.” 

The motion that will be introduced by Mayor Karen Bass, Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Supervisor Janice Hahn, Supervisor Hilda Solis, and Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian reads as follows:


Metro Board Directors Bass, Barger, Hahn, Solis, and Najarian

Recently, our system has endured an uptick in violence and crime. Law enforcement agencies are reporting a rise in crime, resulting in increased arrests and citations for trespassing, narcotics, and weapons possession. As Metro ridership continues to increase to pre-pandemic levels, reaching more than 950,000 weekday riders in March 2024, the increase in crime threatens to derail our goal of exceeding 1.2 million weekday riders if we cannot ensure the safety of those who want and need to use the bus and rail system. As a Board, we propose urgent, decisive action to keep our riders, employees, and community members safe. 

The Metro Board of Directors took swift action last month to approve the manufacture and installation of reinforced physical barriers to better protect bus operators from this senseless violence. Metro’s entire bus fleet is anticipated to be fitted with new barriers by the end of the year. However, this is not enough. There has been a surge in violent crimes across the Metro bus and rail system over the past 3 months, resulting in death, injuries, and increased safety concerns for Metro’s riders and frontline employees.

Additionally, Wi-Fi and cell phone service are not reliably available throughout Metro’s rail system, hampering our riders’ ability to communicate with public safety personnel. Metro’s Transit Watch Mobile App, for instance, allows riders to directly contact emergency and law enforcement personnel by text or phone, but requires Wi-Fi or cellular service. We must ensure Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available systemwide so that riders can quickly and easily contact public safety personnel when needed. 

While Metro and its security partners have taken many steps to improve safety, we must do more to ensure the safety of our riders and employees across the system.

WE, THEREFORE, MOVE the Board to direct the CEO to:

  1. Increase the daily planned deployment of public safety personnel, adjusting deployment to focus on the rail cars, buses, and stations with the highest incidents of crime and public safety issues so that riders and frontline employees feel safe.

  2. Direct public safety personnel, including Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Long Beach Police Department, and Metro Transit Security officers to be physically present on buses and trains. 

  3. Direct public safety personnel to proactively walk through rail cars and ride buses. Public safety personnel must also schedule overlapping or staggered shift times to ensure continuity and avoid gaps in coverage.

  4. Establish a unified command led by Metro’s Systems Security & Law Enforcement Department, with representation from all public safety resources.

  5. Ensure that cellular service is enabled and working at all underground metro rail stations, on the platforms, and during transit throughout the rail system, and bolster education and awareness of Metro’s Transit Watch Mobile App so riders can directly access an emergency response.