Sheriff Alex Villanueva Makes a Major Announcement Regarding LASD’s MTA Contract Bid
Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference to make a significant announcement regarding the Los Angeles Sheriff Department and the MTA. The Sheriff expressed his concern regarding public safety on the Metro Transit System in Los Angeles.
Sheriff Villanueva provided statistical information regarding the increase in crime dating back to September 2020 and highlighted examples of violent assaults that occurred on the railways: two LASD deputies ambushed at the Metro Compton Station in September of 2020; A Metro train operator was shot at the Metro Indiana Gold Line Station while operating the train In January 2021; 4 passengers inside the train were shot by known gang members at the Wilmington Station in September 2021. Lastly, in November 2021, a passenger was fatally shot in the head. The suspect also attempted to kill responding Deputies at the Wilmington station.
Sheriff Villanueva expressed how the MTA has turned into an unsafe environment, as several critical incidents have occurred this past year alone. In March 2020, a patron was pushed on the tracks at 7th and Metro Station by a homeless person. That patron suffered severe head trauma. February 2022, a homeless man was cut in half after sleeping on the tracks. January 2022, Sandra Shells was attacked and killed at a bus stop near Union Station. Sheriff Alex Villanueva expressed that the various law enforcement agencies covering the railways and bus routes does not provide adequate coverage due to jurisdictional issues and the stifling of enforcement placed upon peace officers by Metro Board regulations.
Sheriff Villanueva discussed the Metro Board’s policy on private security and the inability to enforce quality of life issues on the metro system. The Sheriff stated, “cops cannot remove an unruly passenger from the trains. This has caused MTA patrons to fear for their safety while onboard the system, and at times, the paying patrons are asked to exit the train. The MTA board only allows the homeless, unruly, drunk, and criminal people on board the trains and buses.”
LASD has provided law enforcement services for Metro since 1997. The LASD has always had full-time personnel strictly assigned and trained for public transit policing. Currently, LASD deploys 300 deputies assigned to Transit Services Bureau.
The Metro Board defunded LASD and, in 2017, decided to move to a multi-agency contract with LAPD and Long Beach Police Department. LASD was reduced to the lowest possible staffing levels, which endangered public and rider safety. Metro Board has expressed its desire to shift from armed law enforcement response to nonviolent crimes and code of conduct violations.
Sheriff Villanueva added the Department intends to bid for the complete Metro Board contract to provide comprehensive law enforcement and public safety services to the entire Bus and railway system. If the bid is denied, LASD personnel will be deployed elsewhere in the county to fulfill staffing vacancies. Sheriff Villanueva further stated, “Effective July 1, 2022, LASD will redeploy our personnel to other critical public safety needs, absent a commitment by the Metro Board upon expiration of the contract.”