Mayor Lightfoot, CPD and CTA Announce Comprehensive Public Transit Safety Plan

February 28, 2020

New investments in CTA safety include additional 50 transit officers, dedicated detective unit and smart policing technology

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today joined the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to announce the City’s comprehensive public transit safety plan, which will add 50 more officers, smart policing technology and a dedicated detective unit to the nation’s second-largest public transit system. As part of this new multi-faceted plan to increase safety across Chicago’s rail and bus system and provide a more secure, comfortable traveling experience, the Police Department is expanding its Public Transportation Unit with more officers and resources than ever before in the history of CTA.

“Public transit is the great connector of our city, and residents and riders deserve a world-class public transportation system that is not only accessible, reliable and affordable, but most importantly safe,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “With these new public safety investments, we are building on our 'all-hands-on-deck' public safety strategy to maximize resources and expand manpower as well as increase cross-agency coordination to create real, widespread and lasting public safety.”

To build on recent deployment strategies, rail saturation missions and undercover operations to fight crime on the CTA, the Department is adding an additional 50 officers to its Public Transportation Unit. With several hundred officers currently patrolling the CTA, the additional officers in the unit will expand CPD’s footprint on Chicago’s public transit system, allowing more officers to monitor activity on the platform stations, trains and buses.

"With more than 1 million daily riders, the safety and security of the traveling public are extremely important to us," said Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck. "Today's transit safety enhancements puts Chicago in alignment with other major city transit systems across the country and allows us to leverage technology-based policing that has helped reduce crime and violence in Chicago for the last three years."

As part of last month’s Department-wide reorganization to maximize the level of police resources back into the field, the Department is creating a dedicated group of detectives to focus solely on crime activity on the CTA. Working directly with the CTA Security Department and the officers patrolling the stations, the new detectives will not only build on City’s current reductions in transit crime but also supplement its efforts to solve crimes when they do occur. While crime on the CTA system has seen a slight decrease compared to the same time last year, arrests have increased by nearly 30% year-to-date, credited heavily towards targeted enforcement missions and increased collaboration between detectives and officers in the field.

“The CTA has long had a strong partnership with the Chicago Police Department, and today that partnership gets even stronger,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “The additional officers and detectives, as well as the technology improvements CPD is making, demonstrate our continued commitment to ensuring the safest commute possible for CTA customers.”

In addition to the new detectives, the Department will also be adding a new Strategic Decision Support Center (SDSC Room) to the 1st (Central) District, which will be dedicated to solving CTA crime as well as crimes in the District. Expected to launch this spring, the new smart policing technology will be the central location where CPD will have access to more than 32,000 cameras already installed on CTA property. The cameras, which are found at every rail station and on every bus and train, continue to assist detectives in identifying and locating offenders that commit crimes on the public transit system.

“I applaud the Mayor for taking the necessary steps to ensure Chicago’s trains and bus systems remain safe for riders and employees,” said Alderman Chris Taliaferro, Public Safety Chair, 29th Ward. “By making public safety investments in our world-class public transportation system and moving more officers to patrol our trains, we are ensuring that every last resource in Chicago is used towards keeping our city safe.”

Funded thanks to a generous donation by philanthropist and Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, the new SDSC Room will decrease the time needed to access surveillance footage from both CTA cameras as well as private security cameras, which in the past has taken detectives hours to retrieve. These district-based intelligence centers give real-time access to district intelligence information to police officers in the field, helping them determine deployment strategies based on historical crime data. This mobile technology will allow for smarter, data-driven patrols and significantly decreased response times to potential service calls.

The CTA operates the second-largest public transit system in the nation, with approximately 1.5 million rides taken on CTA buses and trains on an average weekday. CTA provides more than 18,000 bus trips and 2,300 train trips each weekday. These additional resources will continue to ensure the CTA is one of the safest transit systems in the nation per capita measure.

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