Chicago police add SWAT teams, extra patrols on CTA after spike in crime

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New sets of trained eyes are now riding CTA trains across Chicago after a rash of crimes targeting passengers on public transportation.

Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck announced the deployment of SWAT teams on the CTA on Friday. It's the city's latest step to curb the recent spike in violent crime along the transit system, including a murder, a stabbing and a shooting in the last two weeks.

"Effective this morning, we had SWAT officers riding the trains," said First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio.

Chicago police are also stepping up uniformed patrols, adding 50 additional offices to the transit system to patrol the platforms and stations. The SWAT officers who will join them will be dressed in their green camouflage uniforms in a show of force.

"Not SWAT officers in full tactical gear, but SWAT officers that are the best and the brightest officers to make sure that the trains are safe," Beck said.

While people may have concerns about their safety, the majority of CTA riders we talked to did not think SWAT teams were necessary.

"The CTA definitely needs some help with security, but SWAT teams, that's a little extreme," said CTA rider Trina Peoples.

"That seems a bit like overkill to me, that seems like it's a pretty extreme measure," said CTA rider Riley Peterson.

Aisha Lewis, who takes the Red Line, said, "I think SWAT teams would make people feel like it's something way more serious than it is. Not to take it lightly, but I just think it's overkill."

RELATED: 1 dead, 2 injured in CTA shooting in tunnel between CTA Red, Blue lines at Jackson station

The most recent shooting happened in a tunnel connecting the Blue and Red lines at State and Jackson early Monday morning, leaving one man dead and two others wounded. Two six-month-old twins were in the vicinity of the shooting.

Torrezz Cathery, 23, is facing charges in the shooting.

U.S. Marshals and Chicago police arrested Cathery in west suburban Oak Park on Thursday.

Beck said Cathery has 22 prior arrests. Police said he was arrested in October for attempting to stab someone.

Police said the SWAT officers will be riding the trains until further notice.

"They were out there as of rush hour this morning. They're going to continue to be on the trains around the clock," Riccio said.

"I think it's important because as everybody knows, 1.6 million Chicagoans ride the transportation system every day and all of us need to feel safe," Beck said.

Police said their focus will be on the Blue and Red Lines, where the most recent crimes have taken palce.

The SWAT officers will be riding those lines in high traffic areas in and around the downtown area.
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