Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference Tuesday to announce a new initiative to keep the public safe while they ride the Metro system.
Within the last six months, there have been several crimes in the Metro system including people pushed on train tracks, unprovoked attacks on passengers by homeless individuals, according to Sheriff officials.
Sexual assaults on female passengers, and a patron intentionally set on fire while riding the train have also been reported. Several of these crimes resulted in fatalities.
According to Metro, approximately 5700 homeless people live on the train system and on the Metro platforms. This has created an enormous problem for those whose only transportation option is the train system.
“The biggest problem we have right now on the entire transit system, is we have a homeless population that are living on the train system and on the platforms. And the intersection of that, and the people that are actually using the trains for their intended purpose, for travel, is colliding and it’s colliding with deadly results, ”said Sheriff Villanueva.
To halt the grave problem and to ensure the safety of Metro passengers, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is launching Operation Safe Travel. This will be a multi-layered approach to conduct targeted operations along the train system. The goal of the operation will be the safety of commuters by having high law enforcement visibility and the removal of homeless individuals from trains and platforms through homeless outreach and early intervention. Right now, security officers request assistance from deputies when a situation is out of their control and sometimes that intervention comes late. With early intervention, deputies can interact with an individual showing distress so that the situation does not escalate.
Resources for the operation will include members of various units and bureaus from the LASD including the Sheriff’s Response Team, Community Oriented Policing Services, Homeless Outreach Services Team, Transportation Services Bureau Special Assignment Team, Mounted Enforcement Detail, Narcotics Bureau, Operation Safe Streets, Human Trafficking Detail and other units and offices from the Sheriff’s Department.
Operation Safe Travel will begin on June 1st, 2022, and the first step of the multi-layer approach will be to remove individuals living on the transit system. LASD wants to train commuters to see the difference and feel safe while using the Metro. Train commuters and riders are encouraged to call this number to report any Metro non-emergency concerns: (213) 229-2298.
To view the press conference video and materials used, please click here.