Los Angeles Metro Declares Public Safety Emergency

Los Angeles Metro Declares Public Safety Emergency

Riders await an LA Metro rail train in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 10, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

4/26/2024

Updated: 4/26/2024

LOS ANGELES—Following the death of woman on the Metro B (Red) Line and a series of violent attacks on bus drivers, the transit agency’s Board of Directors declared a public safety emergency April 25 while agreeing to procure safety barriers for bus drivers and taking other steps to enhance safety on the system.
Metro’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted a recommendation to acquire barriers for hundreds of buses, in response to a “sudden, unexpected increased severity of assaults on operators.” According to Metro, assaults on bus operators increased from 92 attacks in 2019 to 160 in 2023, and they continue to escalate this year.
Metro board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger also introduced a motion, co-authored by several of her colleagues, to quickly explore solutions to bolster public safety, prompted by the death of 66-year-old Mirna Soza Arauz, who was stabbed in an apparently unprovoked attack earlier this week.
“Metro riders deserve to be safe on the system, and we will continue to do all that,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who chairs the Board of Directors, said during Thursday’s meeting. “We can keep not only our riders, but also our operators safe, and I know that as a board, we will step up to this challenge because that’s what frankly the people of Los Angeles deserve.”
Ms. Barger said her motion calls for the agency to secure station gate entrances and exits, analyze data on violent crimes—including those by reoffenders—occurring on the system, and speed up pilot solutions at some of the most “challenging” stations. The motion was co-authored by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis, as well as L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian, Inglewood Mayor James Butts and Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian.
Among other measures the Board of Directors called for were quickly increasing security cameras, implementing facial recognition technology, and using other technology. The agency may also look into ways of banning problematic individuals from Metro altogether.
“We have received reports highlighting improvements since last year on crime stats and over other key areas,” Ms. Barger said. “But the reality is that we are fighting a battle with one hand tied behind our back.”
At one point, Ms. Barger said she didn’t feel safe riding Metro by herself.
While there was overall agreement to explore as many options as possible to improve Metro’s safety, there was disagreement as to how to best get there.
Supervisor Lindsey Horvath was critical of Metro’s policing contracts with the Los Angeles Police Department, Long Beach Police Department and L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. She suggested that the agencies have not been forthcoming about how they’ve improved their approach to deploying their officers across the transit system.
Mr. Butts said he was a proponent of implementing more security technology across the system.
Supervisor Holly Mitchell said the agency needs to keep the broader context in mind while discussing public safety and not commit to “knee jerk reactions.”
The Board of Directors is expected to hear more about potential public safety measures within 60 days.
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