A new team of security officers will be deployed on buses throughout Los Angeles County, following the Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors’ decision last week to fund hiring 48 such officers to keep bus operators and riders safe amid an uptick in assaults on transit routes.
“It is important that we’re finally going to have a team of transit security officers who are dedicated to our buses and are actually riding them alongside our passengers,” LA County Supervisor and Metro boardmember Janice Hahn said in a March 27 statement. “Most of Metro’s consistent transit riders take the bus and they deserve a safe and comfortable ride.”
The annual budget required for the additional 48 transit officers is $6.2 million, a spokesperson for the Metro told The Epoch Times.
The move comes as Metro has been beefing up its security efforts and launched an ambassador program, earlier this month, with nearly 300 unarmed workers to ensure safety on its trains and buses.
The new security officers will consist of 44 officers, half of whom will be armed, three supervisors, and one transit security captain, “which will be deployed to expand the Bus Riding Teams to ensure bus operator safety, add presence aboard the buses and ensure compliance of the Customer Code of Conduct,” Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero told The Epoch Times.
The agency reported 158 incidents of bus operators being assaulted in 2022, an increase from the previous year when it reported 115.
The board’s decision is partly to advance its current public safety plan aimed at making ridership safer.
Such will “give Metro a greater ability to reliably deploy personnel with the training and capabilities to respond to the variety of incidents that occur on our transit system,” LA County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Hilda L. Solis, said in a statement also March 27.
In addition to the new Metro personnel, the agency is working with the city and county of Los Angeles to add—on its buses and trains—homeless outreach, drug addiction, and crisis intervention teams, and is also improving security cameras, lighting, and having stations and buses cleaned more frequently.
A homeless hub is also being proposed at one of its Long Beach Metro stations.
The board also approved new bias-free policing during its March 23 meeting.
“The Board’s approval of these new policies will help ensure that Metro avoids racial profiling and bias when deploying its security and law enforcement services,” Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, the Metro Board’s First Vice Chair said in a statement. “These policies establish clear expectations and standards for fair and unbiased policing and reinforce the importance of treating all individuals with respect and dignity.”
From January 2022 to January 2023, there was nearly a 15 percent increase in criminal incidents against people on both buses and trains, according to a Metro board report last week.
City News Service contributed to this report.