CTA to add 50 cops, 1,500 security cameras

July 27, 2011 8:28:25 PM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says an additional layer of security, including more permanent police patrols and security cameras, will soon make CTA bus and train stations safer.

The mayor arrived on a Green Line train and was met at the Ashland station by CTA President Forrest Claypool, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. They re-announced the installation of 1,500 new surveillance cameras for the transit system and 50 more Chicago cops to be permanently detailed to the CTA.

"So people going to and from work or from neighborhood to neighborhood can feel safe and not worry about it," said Mayor Emanuel.

"And they're going be dedicated beat officers who are going to be dedicated everyday to transit security," said Claypool.

Fifty new academy graduates will be hired to sustain the current overall city police force level. The CTA will pay for the full-time cops with $10 million it already spends to hire part time armed security.

McCarthy says his officers will begin their focus each day on so-called farebox jumpers.

"If we catch them for fare evasion, they're not committing a robbery. If we catch them for drug possession, they're not committing a burglary. And this is the way we have to approach crime reduction," he said.

During the past year, CTA has seen an upsurge in crime, ranging from iPhone thievery to the murder of 68-year-old Sally Katona King who was pushed down an "L" stop stairway by a suspected pickpocket.

President Claypool is not concerned that his cash-strapped agency must spend more for security.

"Budgets are about priorities. Safety and security are the number one priority for Mayor Emanuel. It's the number priority for me at the CTA," he said.

Claypool has noted the death of Sally Katona King, the grandmother who was pushed down the stairs at a CTA platform by a fleeing robber. It was not caught on camera. Now there are 1,500 hundred cameras. Three thousand will be up by the end of December.

"I think it's excellent and probably it should have been something they could've done a long time ago," said Eileen Katona, daughter.

Chicago police checked the Red Line Wednesday night . The Wolf Pack patrols were out to cut crime and ease commuters' fears.

"A lot of fighting, a lot of arguing, almost gunpoint situations, so it's really dangerous," said Deanna Brooks, Red Line commuter.

The Wolf Packs have been in place about a month. During that time, the CTA says crime has dropped when you compare June to July. Robberies are down 24 percent, thefts 8 percent, and assaults have dropped 55 percent.

"Too early with the trends to declare any sense of victory, but it's clear it's had an impact. And we're seeing the early results and it's a decision to invest in those results," said Emanuel.

Some CTA commuters say the extra force is excessive while others welcome the move.

"It's all right to add police, but not in the 'L' Stations all the time. It's like Fort Knox down here sometimes," said Brian Milsap, CTA rider.

"A cop on the CTA just stops everyone from goofing off, stuff does not happen. So the more they can have, the better," said Bob Paul, CTA rider.

"I definitely think it will help because people will know there is somebody watching them," said Jessica Hall, CTA rider.

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