Metro Board considering a new policing contract

A new contract to provide law enforcement on the Metro system will be considered by the Metro Board of Directors at their Dec. 1 meeting.

The current contract expires Dec. 31 and is with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), who have policed the Metro system since 2009. The five-year contract proposed by Metro staff is not-to exceed $546 million and would split that work between the LASD, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department.

From the Metro staff report, the new contract is being proposed because it:

•Establishes consistent, reliable staffing of approximately 240 law enforcement officers per 24 hour period, which is an improvement over the current staffing which ranges from approximately 160 to 200 personnel assigned to the system each day.

•Increases emphasis on patrolling the bus system and corridors. Grows the bus riding team from 6 to 34 law enforcement officers, a 466 percent increase in staffing level and coverage.

•Maximizes law enforcement staffing at a favorable cost. The total estimated five year contract value of a multi-agency award is $526.6M – $546.6 million. LASD’s proposal for the entire service area was $627.1 million. A multi-agency award improves service and delivers an estimated $80 -100.5 million in cost savings.

Provides flexibility to enhance security as the transit system grows over the next 5 year period.

Metro staff, including CEO Phil Washington, said repeatedly that safety and security of passengers is the agency’s top priority and that the new contract would make police more visible on/in Metro buses, trains and facilities. One statistic oft-cited: in a Metro survey of former riders, 29 percent said they no longer ride because they didn’t feel safe enough.

Other large transit agencies — including ones in Denver and Portland — have multiple police departments handling calls on their systems. A multi-police agency approach, Metro staff said, would improve response times and eliminate staffing shortages that often occur during LASD shift changes and in the evening, when overtime work is often required. “Staffing is unpredictable; based on the current model I can’t predict what my staffing is going to be day to day,” Alex Wiggins, Metro’s Chief of System Security and Law Enforcement, told two Metro Board committees on Thursday.

Board Members had many questions, many concerning the effectiveness of splitting policing work between three police departments. “When we talk about three police agencies that makes me exceedingly, exceedingly nervous,” said Board Member and L.A. Council Member Paul Krekorian, adding he would need a very high level of confidence to vote for the new contract.

Officials from the LASD and their union said the new contract is ill-advised and could create logistical problems. When asked by County Supervisor and Board Member Sheila Kuehl why the riding public has lost confidence in the LASD, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said that if LASD could expand the number of officers deployed to the system, it could increase visibility. But “that wouldn’t be the cost savings that Metro is looking for,” he added.

Other questions involved the use of overtime pay by the LAPD to deploy officers to the Metro system and how police would respond to calls that involve potential crimes that go beyond city boundaries. County Supervisor and Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas also said that he found it “unseemly” to see different police agencies vying so strongly for the same contract.

Below is audio and video from the Metro Board’s System Safety, Security and Operations Committee held Thursday morning. The discussion of the proposed contract begins at the 2:45 mark.

RESOURCES

All of the Metro staff reports and and attachments are here.

Outside coverage of this issue in the Los Angeles Times is here.

The latest crime stats on Metro from the LASD are here; the report says that part one crimes (the most serious offenses) are down 14 percent from January through September of this year compared to 2015.

And here is an embed of the main staff report:

And here is the agency’s policing strategy:

attachment-a-comprehensive-security-policing-principles-strategy

24 replies

    • Hi Anri;

      I’m not sure of the exact years, but I believe the agency did have its own force for a while and ultimately decided to rely on law enforcement agencies.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  1. Police need to check for fares. Sorry, but your station gates are useless. People go through the handicap gate without tapping or reach around the gate and open it. The fare gates do nothing. Such a waste of money.

    • This is something that has always amazed me about LA’s metro rail operation. The station staff on the Red/Purple lines are located at the platform level and not at the fare gates. Every single other rail system in major cities I’ve been to have had the staff at the fare gate as both a preventative measure against fare evaders, but also as information/assistance. I feel like if Metro had the staff visible at the entrance to the station, they could stop people from evading fares and prevent possible criminal offenders from entering the system in the first place (if you’re going to commit a crime, you probably aren’t paying the fare, either). Moving the station staff to the entrance would also help with the public’s perception of safety because you know exactly where the staff is rather than having them roaming the platform or in a different location at every station. New York, DC, San Francisco, Tokyo, London, all of these systems have staff right at the fare gates, I don’t understand why LA doesn’t follow this same model.

  2. Having the LBPD will make life more interesting i remember the time when a cop was patrolling the willow station checking tickets on the platform and a gal pretended to fish in her purse for a ticket and then started to bolt i had never seen a full body tackle on concrete but that was a good tackle

  3. Here’s a thought. Lock the turnstiles at every station, so law enforcement can be freed from ticket checking, to actually provide law enforcement services. Just a thought.

    • That would be helpful, except not all of the stations, mainly the Expo and Blue Lines, as well as the Orange Line, do not have any turnstiles, hence the reason why law enforcement checking fares at a lot of the stations.

  4. As an occasional red line rider, I’ve observed several times after 10 at night, NO visible law enforcement presence. I had asked one LASD Sgt. why, and he responded, we don’t have personnel assigned this late. Really! So now that the secret is out, MTA, how about using an agency willing and able to work at all hours of operation to insure the safety of your riding public? (Especially with billions now heading your way…)

    • My previous detailed post was deleted for some reason. Perhaps because it was so detailed and came from someone who has first hand knowledge concerning more than one police agency previously.

      More than one police agency didn’t work with the LASD and LAPD and it won’t work a added agency. If the MTA wan’t more officers they should contract with the LASD for more deputies.

  5. I think you need to also mention the safety of the bus operators as being important. We want LASD to continue to provide service for us. All the other talk will make matters worse.

  6. So LAPD would be working only on overtime which provides for Metro managers and bus operators as well as rail operators no consistency of having a working partnership with officers on a daily basis, due to having different officers on a daily basis as opposed to a set of officers who are working with managers and operators and providing them the best service. Wake up Metro and Board staff stop thinking about yourself but think of those who are the bottom of Metro and we support and want LASD. Also, I don’t think those who live in LAPD area will be happy with Lapd officers providing service to Metro due to the fact that they will be taking from their perspective areas calling for increased response times. As it is now LAPD has horrible response times. Wake up and Kepp LASD as one agency only. Thanks

  7. I saw the video presentation of the Board Hearing considering the New proposed contract to provide enhanced Uniformed Security for the Metro System. A change from the current situation is long overdue and changes are imperative if the system is to succeed with the public. We are told constantly that Safety is METRO’s top priority. The facts would say otherwise.

    The current situation is very different from the promises that were made by Metro when the Red &Blue Lines were started. Let me give you some perspective. I was on the very first Red Line train to leave Union Station for regular service. I would transfer to the Blue Line at 7th & Metro & ride to the Del Amo Station M-F for two years. Metro had promised a safe ride & felt very safe. There were uniformed law enforcement on the platform at EVERY station on the Red & Blue Lines. There was a Deputy that I would see on the Blue Line train EVERY day I rode. I never felt unsafe at Any time.

    Last Sunday, November 11, I spent the whole day traveling from Azusa to Union Station. I took the Red Line to Blue Line then Green Line to Nash Street Station where the train had to stop & could not proceed further. I ended up Taking the 232 Bus on to Redondo. I returned Sunday evening via bus & the Expo Line because of the bad conditions I encountered on the Blue Line earlier in the day. During my time with Metro I did not see a Single Uniformed Security Person during my entire trip Going to Redondo. What I did see on the Blue Line was people smoking,drinking beer & Wine & at least one intoxicated individual shouting profanities. On my return the first Uniformed Security I saw was at the Colorado Santa Monica Station platform on the Expo Line & one on the Goldmine platform at Union Station. For me this speaks volumes. Just before I got to the stairs to board the Goldmine at Union Station several teenagers were skateboarding down the Main Concourse with Zero Security anywhere to be seen.

    This is not What Metro Promised & should never have been tolerated.

    • I stopped riding the trains due to the bums and people selling stuff on the trains, where are the officers when this stuff is going on?

  8. When it comes to security improvements throughout the Metro system, I’m less than willing to accept Metro’s proposal at face value. Reading through the comments that others have posted here as well as an article posted by Anna Chen on 07/19/2016 (Safety, security and you), Metro has become more interested in forcing the public to secure themselves with little or no help from LASD or any private security company being employed. I have seen homeless people harass patrons in front of deputies and nothing is done. There are the fare inspectors that are more interested in checking social media or gossiping than actually checking fares. Riding the early morning Red Line, it’s been about a year since any type of security has been seen between North Hollywood and 7th/Metro Center.

    The paying patrons should not have to wait for a new contract for changes to be made. There are many improvements that can be made today if only Metro management and LASD took a stand and actually cared.

    When was the last time any city official actually rode any part of the system as a regular patron? And don’t point to any of the images of the mayor sitting on a bus with only one other person in site.

  9. Imagine if the city of Los Angeles spent that much on its homeless problem, with as much ease. Imagine where the city of LA would be then?

  10. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I feel LESS safe when I see five Sheriffs checking tap cards on the train. Or when they check my card not seconds after I’ve tapped, turnstile or not.

    They never come through when the train is packed beyond capacity and there’s less than sane homeless people throughout.

  11. Law enforcement needs to learn to work together. If Intel and techniques are shared that can only help improve service, but everyone has to have an open mind.

  12. In 1997, MTA merged their police department with LASD and LAPD. 40% of their police department went to LASD and 60% went to LAPD. In 2009 the entire contract went to LASD. Now MTA is considering giving most of the contract to LAPD. Maybe MTA should have kept their police department so they wouldn’t have to keep changing who provides police service for their patrons.