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LA mayor says Metro’s board of directors will push for more police visibility

Karen Bass, mayor of Los Angeles and chair of the Metro Board of Directors, said Wednesday that she and other board members will introduce a motion next week calling for increased law enforcement patrols and greater visibility on public transit buses and trains.

The move follows a wave of violent crimes linked to the system in recent weeks, including the fatal stabbing of a woman on a B Line train in the Studio City neighborhood last month and a trio of attacks this week in which three people were stabbed and another was hit. in the chest during a robbery.

“As chairman of Metro (board), I am currently working with my colleagues – the other members of the board – on a motion that we will table at the next meeting, next week. will call for more patrols and more visibility on buses and trains,” Bass told reporters on Wednesday.

Concerns about safety on the subway system have escalated in recent weeks, despite statistics showing that crime related to buses and trains has fallen overall over the past year.

“The number of passengers is almost at pre-pandemic levels and things are going – I mean, there was a problem with crime, but not the kind of violent crime that we’ve seen in recent months,” Bass said. . “It is clear that there is a peak. It is clear that we will tackle them aggressively.

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‘So we are now finalizing a motion. We will probably make the motion public well before next week’s meeting. So stay tuned the next day and we’ll make sure that’s done.”

Metro officials have struggled in recent years over the best way to oversee public transit. The agency generally works with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Long Beach Police Department to oversee the system. But three years ago — in the post-George Floyd era of calls for cuts in law enforcement spending — Metro opted to vastly expand its use of “ambassadors,” who are essentially customer service representatives stationed around the public transport are positioned to provide support and information for motorcyclists and a tool for people to report maintenance or safety issues.

However, according to Metro’s own website, the ambassadors “are not security officers and do not replace existing security personnel or law enforcement.” feel safer for our riders.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who also serves on Metro’s Board of Directors, told KNX News Wednesday morning that the agency cannot rely on ambassadors to make riders feel safer.

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“I’m very focused on bringing law enforcement back into the conversation,” Barger told the station. “Metro has struggled for years with how we address safety on our lines, and I think we took the wrong approach.”

Safety concerns on public transportation were highlighted this week by a trio of violent incidents, the most recent of which occurred Tuesday afternoon when a person was robbed and assaulted aboard a Metro bus in the Encino area. That attack happened on a bus near Ventura Boulevard and Balboa Avenue shortly after 2 p.m. Metro officials said a man was robbed of a cellphone and hit in the chest. The suspect was arrested as he walked away from the bus and the victim was not seriously injured.

Monday at approximately 7:05 p.m., a fight broke out on a Metro bus near West Los Feliz Road and South Central Avenue in Glendale. In that case, according to Metro, the bus driver stopped the vehicle and four men got out and the fight continued in the street, with two of the four people being stabbed.

The two injured people were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries and the other two people involved were arrested, according to Metro.

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Several media reports indicated that the altercation began when three juvenile suspects attempted to steal a backpack from a teenage boy.

About two hours after that altercation, a woman was stabbed at the C (Green) Line Vermont/Athens Metro station at South Vermont Avenue and the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway. The suspect fled by boarding a westbound train, authorities said. The victim was allegedly stabbed in the arm.

Metro’s Board of Directors approved an emergency procurement declaration on April 29 to expedite the purchase and installation of protective barriers for drivers on approximately 2,000 buses due to the “sudden, unexpected increase in the severity of attacks on operators.”

The board also urged a review of other potential security improvements, including an investigation into measures such as securing all transit station entrances and exits, increasing security cameras on the system and using facial recognition technology.

Some bus drivers recently staged a ‘sick call’ to protest the recent attacks on drivers.

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