Chicago crime: Security volunteers, martial artists patrol CTA Red Line trains

Friday, April 22, 2022
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CTA Red Line trains were patrolled by security volunteers and martial artists amid increasing crime on Chicago trains.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Friday's goal for the group was to make sure their presence was felt, going to each railcar and reassuring passengers they were there solely for their safety.

"By the time police get called, somebody's already been hurt," said Tio Hardiman of Violence Interrupters. "My staff are trained in de-escalating situations, so if we see somebody that wants to assault somebody, we are just going to intervene."

They hopped on board the Red Line with one destination in mind: getting to a point where crime on the train is stopped.

"We understand how to go into a situation and neutralize it. Not only that, we have military training. I have airborne rangers here. I have a Navy Seal," said Andre "Tank" Hart, a volunteer.

Those teams of unarmed volunteer security officers and martial artists quickly maneuvered from one railcar to the next, making their presence felt.

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"I wish y'all could be on here every day with us! We need y'all everyday!" said CTA rider Dana Carr.

They brought a much-needed peace to passengers.

"Later on, after 6:00 or so, I think it's not that safe," said CTA rider Ellora Shane. "I do like the idea... We always could use help in the city of Chicago. We can always use help."

This effort comes at a time when Chicago estimates violent crime on the system is up 17% from last year.

"It's good to have them on the train, but you just don't know. Anything could happen at any time," said CTA rider Santiago Garcia. "There's no cops... I used to see them around, but not anymore. So that's the reason I don't feel safe and everything that's going on especially, on the Red Line."

On Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin and Congressman Chuy Garcia sent a letter to the CTA, calling on the agency to do more to ensure safety on the trains. Chicago police and the CTA have pledged more patrol officers.

The idea of civilians taking actions into their own hand concerns some riders.

"Leave that to the police. You know, that's like police work. And, if you're not police then you shouldn't do police work," said CTA rider Mel Jackson. "It's good to have eyes all over, so we'll see how that works and it's like, I don't know, I hate to see people risk their lives and do police work if they're not a police, so I don't know how it's gonna work out."

But, that concern was not enough to deter the group's plans to patrol the platforms and hopefully, they said, work side-by-side with the City.

"We're not the police. We're not vigilantes. We're out to try and make sure that people feel safe when they are boarding CTA trains," Hardiman said.

The group plans to do this again sometime next week. Meanwhile, police are urging riders and volunteer security officers not to intervene. Instead, police ask people who witness a crime or something suspicious to call 911.