Customer safety and security is CTA’s No. 1 priority.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a number of steps have been taken to improve efforts in tackling crimes committed across our bus and rail systems, including: increased police patrols and undercover operations targeting pick-pocket theft rings, vandalism and other crimes; expansion of our surveillance camera network to more than 23,000 cameras – making it one of the most comprehensive bus and rail camera networks among U.S transit agencies.
On this page:
CTA’s Statement on Rumors of Immigration ID Checks on CTA (02/15/2017)
Behind the scenes, there are ongoing and extensive efforts under way to prevent crime and to investigate and prosecute criminals who commit crimes. CTA’s Security Department works closely with Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) Public Transportation Unit, a dedicated unit to CTA, on a number of ways to keep passengers safe each day.
CPD and the suburban police departments of Evanston, Forest Park and the Oak Park all provide police protection on our buses, trains and stations via the deployment of both uniformed and plainclothes officers, as well as surveillance missions and other policing strategies, including:
- CPD Transit Rider Interaction Program (TRIP) Pilot: An outgrowth of CTA’s Rules of Conduct, the TRIP pilot program is a new effort by CPD to further enforce rules on the CTA and create a comfortable and safe environment for customers. The pilot, which launched in March 2017, includes uniformed officers at various Red and Blue Line station platforms. Officers board arriving trains to both serve as a deterrent to crime and also respond to any incidents or inquiries from customers. The effort does not impact service and is designed to increase visibility and awareness of ongoing safety and security efforts on the system.
- Farecard Fraud Prevention: In an effort to prevent fraudulent use of reduced and free ride farecards on our system, which can cost potentially millions of dollars in lost fares, since 2014 we’ve been deploying K-9 security teams to rail stations to perform card user verification checks to ensure that the user of the reduced or free ride card is the actual person named/shown on the card. These checks only occur when a turnstile indicates that a free or reduced fare card (such as U-Passes) is used.
- CPD Mobile Explosives Screening Team (MEST)*: This federally funded counterterrorism and security initiative was launched in 2014 and is facilitated by CPD and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Each week, MEST team members are deployed to various CTA rail stations to perform random explosives screenings, which simply require a quick swab of the exterior of bags carried by customers. These random screenings take less than a minute to conduct and do not include identification checks. Passengers who refuse a bag check are denied entry to the station.
- CTA K-9 Unit Patrols: Additional security personnel to supplement CPD efforts of maintain safety and security on the system.
*NOTE: While there is no known threat to CTA or the region’s public transportation facilities, Chicago along with a number of other major cities, including transit agencies in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Boston are taking part in similar programs to ensure the safety of residents and passengers.
Public awareness programs
If It’s Unwanted, It’s Harassment.
Note: call 911 for emergencies or if your immediate safety is threatened.
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide customers with a safe and comfortable travel environment, in 2015 we launched a new educational and awareness campaign that puts would-be offenders on notice that harassment is not tolerated on the CTA.
We take harassment seriously – one incident is one too many.
If you are a victim or witness of harassment on the CTA, we encourage you to speak up and report it.
While not every harassment incident may be considered a criminal offense or result in arrest, the information you provide us is still helpful because it can help determine if there’s a larger pattern of activity that needs to be further investigated.
(Learn more about this campaign)
Cameras aiding in the fight against crime
Our camera network is an invaluable tool for police and their investigation into crimes committed either on or near CTA properties. CTA cameras have been successfully used in detecting crime patterns and serial offenders involved in both reported and unreported crimes, and have even led to the apprehension of offenders through real-time, remote policing missions.
Video Assisted Arrests
Since June 2011, when we began tracking video assisted arrests, CTA’s cameras have aided police in the investigation, arrest and charging of at least
Individuals, in connection with at least
cases where a crime was committed on or near CTA properties.
January 1 - December 31, 2015
In 2015, CTA cameras aided police in the arrest of at least 256 individuals in connection with at least 253 cases where a crime was committed on or near CTA properties.
Recent arrests and convictions
Aided police investigations that led to the identification, arrest and charging of 20 individuals for murder on non-CTA properties since June 2011.
Identified and arrested multiple people involved in pick-pocket theft rings along the rail lines, including one offender responsible for 21 incidents over a six-month span in 2015.
Tracked down a person responsible for abandoning an alligator at the world’s busiest airport.
Began initiative to crack down and arrest vandals responsible for more than $1 million in property damage, annually.
These are just some of the ways CTA’s extensive surveillance camera network is proving invaluable to not only police, but also to customers, neighbors and even reptiles.
Below is a sampling of some arrests made over the last couple years, where CTA's surveillance camera aided police in their investigation of crimes committed on or near CTA properties. For more information on these cases click on the images below.
About our camera network
May 2014: Completed a $14 million project to retrofit our existing rail fleet – more than 840 rail cars – with more than 3,300 360-degree high definition cameras. These cameras are in addition to those on our newest generation of rail cars – the 5000-series, which were pre-equipped with multiple surveillance cameras. CTA's entire rail passenger fleet is now fully equipped surveillance cameras.
October 2012: Created a new, secured access video surveillance room for use by CTA security investigators and local police to maximize the effectiveness of our comprehensive camera network and ensure they have quick and easy access to footage and live camera feeds. The space is approximately 2,800 square feet and more than 12 times larger than the previous space and provides investigators access to 20 terminals with 35 displays and a quad-screen video panel to view video from rail stations, rail cars and buses.
June - November 2011: CTA's rail system camera network more than doubled in size under an aggressive and unprecedented effort to install more than 1,800 additional cameras in rail stations and platform in less than six months to ensure every rail station was equipped with multiple, high-definition cameras. These cameras can provide a live-feed to the CTA Control Center and the Office of Emergency Management (OEMC).
Since 2003: Each bus in CTA's fleet is equipped with multiple surveillance cameras. Today, CTA's buses feature upwards of 12 cameras on each vehicle depending on model.
- Mayor Emanuel and President Claypool Announce Completion of Project to Install Cameras on Rail Cars (press release, 05/07/2014)
- Tag, You’re Arrested! New CTA Cameras Aid Fight Against Vandalism (press release, 04/22/2014)
- CTA Makes Images Available of Person Last Seen with Alligator Abandoned at O’Hare (press release, 11/12/2013)
- Serious crime on CTA down 19 percent in 2012 (press release, 02/25/2013)
- CTA to Expand Surveillance Cameras on Rail Cars (press release, 02/11/2013)
- Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CTA President Forrest Claypool Announce Installation of Security Cameras at ‘L’ stops Has Been Completed Ahead of Schedule (press release, 11/21/2011)
- Mayor Emanuel Highlights the Critical Role of Security Cameras on Chicago’s Transit in Solving Two Major Crimes (press release, 10/15/2011)
- Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces Additional Measure to Ensure the Safety and Security of People Across Chicago (press release, 07/27/2011)
- CTA Announces New Security Initiatives (press release, 06/20/2011)