Alderman, residents want more CTA Red Line safety measures after uptick in violent crime

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Following a recent uptick in violent crime, one of Chicago's aldermen is calling for more safety measures on the CTA Red Line.

46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman has been a victim of that violence himself. He was at the Chicago Red Line stop in February 2018 when he was attacked by a man who came after him not once, but twice.

"Part of it was when that person left to go into the other train, I pressed the red button, that person looked back and that's when I was attacked," he said. "I was lucky that he tried to punch me a couple of times, I dodged him and he ended up spitting on my face and ran off."

He was one of the speakers at Wednesday night's 19th District CAPS meeting, convened specially to discuss the recent string of violent crimes on mass transit and the Red Line in particular.

North Side residents sounded off, some worried about riding the train.

"I never see cops on the platforms, in the cars," one man said.

"What should we do if we're being attacked?" wondered another woman.

"We do have officers riding the trains. We do have officers trying to get to the platforms," said Cmdr. Chris Papaioannou, Chicago Police Department. "Unfortunately, these crimes are being committed all around the clock."

Gregory Ignatius was among the meeting attendees. He was savagely beaten Friday by a group of would-be robbers at the Belmont stop.

"Next thing I knew, one of them that had gone past was hitting me. I could still see that fist coming at me," he said."

"We're trying to make progress, and we're getting additional officers into the unit as soon as this weekend," said Cmdr. Cindy Sam, CPD Transit Unit.

RELATED: Man wanted for sexually assaulting, robbing woman on Red Line train: police

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Following a recent uptick in violent crime, one of Chicago's aldermen is calling for more safety measures on the CTA Red Line.

Cappleman's experience led him to advocate for a safer way for CTA users to quickly report ongoing criminal activity to Chicago police.

This past Friday a 65-year-old man was hit four times in the face by a man coming down the escalator at the Belmont station. On December 29, 2019, four people, including a pregnant woman, were violently assaulted in three separate incidents.

RELATED: 2 teenage girls charged in Red Line robbery, beating of pregnant woman, police say
In all, over 1,300 crimes were reported on the Red Line in 2019. That's more than on all other CTA train lines.

"I would like to see a phone app created when I can make an alert to CTA and police without being readily noticed," Cappleman said. "Often times passengers see a situation brewing and they want to do something, but they don't want to be noticed. And so we need to find a way of alerting CTA and alerting the police in a way that we also feel safe."

RELATED: Woman robbed of cell phone on CTA Red Line in Loop; 3 in custody

Cappleman says he still rides the train regularly and mostly feels safe doing so. He said more police presence and riders putting away their phones would go a long way toward reducing crime on mass transit.
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