CHICAGO (CBS) — In the wake of a string of high-profile acts of violence on the CTA, Chicago police are adding “additional resources” to the public transit system, including SWAT officers deployed to train lines.
Interim Chicago Police Supt. Charlie Beck said CPD, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and the CTA will announce a new security plan for the mass transit system next week.
“In the interim, starting today, we’re going to be putting additional resources onto the train lines, additional police resources onto the train lines, including SWAT officers. Not SWAT officers in full tactical gear, but SWAT officers that are the best and the brightest of my police officers, to make sure that the trains are safe,” Beck said Friday at an unrelated event.
The announcement comes one day after 23-year-old Torrez Cathery was charged with first-degree murder in a shooting that left one person dead and two wounded in a Loop CTA tunnel earlier this week.
Concerns have heightened about violent crime on the CTA in recent weeks, after a 30-year-old man was shot in the back while exiting a Blue Line train at the UIC-Halsted stop on Feb. 5, and a 35-year-old man was stabbed in the arm at the 79th Street stop on the Red Line on Feb. 10. Musbau Hamzat, 37, has been charged with aggravated battery in the Red Line stabbing, and 31-year-old Patrick Waldon has been charged with aggravated battery and armed robbery in the Blue Line shooting.
Overall, the increase in crimes on the CTA has been dramatic over the past few years. There were 2,737 crimes reported in 2016, 3,495 in 2017, 4,388 in 2018, and 4,497 last year.
Serious crimes on the CTA trains and stations have jumped dramatically in recent years – from 1,187 in 2015, climbing steadily to 2,345 last year.
Kenneth Franklin, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, which represents CTA rail workers, has said the spike in crime on public transit is affecting transit workers and people who take the train every day.
“We are genuinely concerned about the passengers,” he said earlier this month. “We are genuinely concerned about our employees.”
Earlier this month, Chicago police said they would be adding 50 officers to CTA trains and platforms by March. While Beck offered few specifics on the overall CTA security plan the city will announce next week, the superintendent said, “It will be a vastly increased presence, including some technology and including some participation by CTA.”
Approximately 1.6 million people ride the CTA on the average weekday, and Beck said the city needs to make sure those riders are protected.
“All of us need to feel safe, and the young people that ride the transportation system need to know that they will not be victims of crime, and that they will be safe in their journeys,” he said.