Operation Safe Travel

A few weeks ago, LA County Sheriff Villanueva announced a new program aimed at hardening security on the portion of the Metro system maintained by his department. The sheriff said he was taking his department’s resources to double the number of armed and uniformed deputies on the trains, buses, and platforms.

I had the chance to shadow the deputies on the first day of full deployment. My day began at 5:30 AM – I met with Shawn Kehoe, the Captain in Charge of the department’s Transit Bureau. Kehoe lays out the operation and says because the needs fluctuate the number of deputies will vary, but there are roughly 124 per shift spread throughout the system managed by the sheriff’s department. Typically, there are ~44 deputies per shift.

WATCH STEVE GREGORY’S RIDE ALONG WITH THE LASD’S MARINE UNIT

I boarded the Gold line in Irwindale with Sgt. Al Esqueda, who’s with the Transit Bureau’s Mental Evaluation Team, or TMET. As soon as we step onto the train we notice a man passed out in the aisle – he was barely coherent and responsive. The Sgt. got him into a seat and the man eventually got off at Union Station.

The Sgt. and I also got off at Union Station. As we walked down the stairs from the platform, the Sgt. noticed a man off to the right, in a dark corner. The man’s pants were around his ankles, and he was about to squat down to defecate on the floor. The Sgt. was able to convince the man to go to the restroom down the hall. When I asked the Sgt. why the man was going to defecate at that spot, he says the man told him, “The bathroom’s too far and I’m about to shit my pants.”

We boarded the Blue Line at the Rosa Parks/Willowbrook Station and rode it to downtown Long Beach. Along the way I met a family from Madison, Wisconsin. They told me they were in town for vacation and because Uber was so expensive they decided to try the train. The parents told me they felt pretty safe on the train because of the presence of armed deputies. The father noted the trains were much nicer than those in Chicago.

SEE/HEAR STEVE GREGORY’S REPORT ON LASD’S BODYCAM PROGRAM

Captain Kehoe says major crimes are up on the Metro. From January through April of 2021, there were 84 major crimes, aka Part 1 crimes, and for the same period this year the number jumped to 145, a 73% increase.

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