Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi today presented Chicago Police Public Transportation Section Commander Ed Gross with a new fleet of squad cars. The 17 full-sized Ford sedans will replace older model vehicles that have exceeded 150,000 miles. Officers will use the vehicles as they monitor and patrol the CTA's system to help ensure customer safety. The CTA invested $353,282 in the new cars.
"The CTA is committed to providing safe transportation for our customers and that means providing the officers who patrol our system with the resources they need to perform their jobs effectively," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Thanks to the efforts of the security forces that patrol our system, crime on the CTA dropped 23.8% from 1999 and crime is continuing to go down through our system. We are also grateful to the City of Chicago for supporting our security efforts with $21 million for the Public Transportation Section of the police department," said Kruesi.
?The new vehicles will allow our officers to function more efficiently. By being mobile, officers are able to respond to bus alarms and rail incidents quickly," said Commander Edward Gross who oversees the Public Transportation Section of the Chicago Police Department.
The Public Transit Unit of the Public Transportation Section consists of full time police officers that are assigned to monitor the bus and rail system by visiting stations, riding trains and buses. The CTA also hires about 75 off-duty police officers daily from Chicago, Oak Park and Evanston as part of the Voluntary Special Employment Program (V.S.E.P.). The CTA developed the V.S.E.P. in 1979 to enhance its security presence.
The V.S.E.P. officers work in teams of two with one officer riding on a bus and the other officer following behind. The officers ride for two miles or more before boarding another bus. By being mobile, they can quickly respond to incidents on both buses and trains. V.S.E.P. officers also assist in implementing bus shuttles in the event of a rail problem.
The new police cars feature Mars lights and sirens as well as special striping designating them as belonging to the CTA. They are also a heavy-duty model Crown Victoria with heavier suspensions, transmissions, alternators and cooling systems than standard models. ?The presence of the uniformed officers and specially marked squad cars reinforces feelings of security among CTA customers and serves to thwart potential offenders. It shows the officers and vehicles are totally dedicated to the CTA," said Commander Gross.
In addition to the Public Transportation Section, the CTA security forces include professional security firms, Securitas and National K-9 (guard/dog teams), which patrol and monitor the rail system and facilities. The deployment of the CTA's security personnel varies according to crime patterns and crime data.
The security efforts employed by the CTA are effective. This year, the CTA has experienced a 15.9% decrease in serious crime (robbery, murder, criminal sexual assault, personal theft) from January through July 2001 when compared to the same period last year. In 2000, crime dropped 23.8% overall from 1999.
Besides the Chicago Police Public Transit unit, the V.S.E.P. program and private contractors, the CTA has implemented other measures and initiatives to make the rail and bus system safer.
As the CTA makes improvements to rail stations, stations are painted with a whiter and more reflective paint, and equipped with brighter lighting, improved audio visual signage, customer assistance call buttons and ramps and elevators.
Surveillance cameras are being installed on buses throughout the CTA system. New Nova buses that are in the process of being delivered already have the cameras installed. The cameras have been useful in helping officers identify and apprehend offenders on buses and also serve as a deterrent. Currently, 1,132, or 59%, of 1,908 buses are equipped with surveillance cameras. As new buses equipped with cameras replace older model buses, the CTA is moving toward a goal of having cameras mounted on 100% of its bus fleet.
?Our security partnership with the Chicago Police Department and other security agencies affirms our commitment to the safety of our bus and rail customers as well as to our employees. These new vehicles will visibly enhance the presence of our security detail and enable them to perform their jobs more efficiently," said Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett.