Metro votes to create their own police force

The Los Angeles Metro Board voted unanimously Thursday to create their own police force. The decision comes after a string of violent and deadly attacks on/near Metro buses and trains. 

Under the plan, the new department, called the Transit Community Public Safety Department, would be gradually implemented over a five-year span. 


Currently, Metro contracts law enforcement with the LA County Sheriff's Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and Long Beach Police Department. Metro's contracts with those agencies will continue over the five-year roll-out, according to Robert Gummer, the agency's interim deputy chief of system security and law enforcement.

Within the months of April and May Metro saw at least seven violent attacks, three of which were deadly. 

Of the four proposals the Metro Board discussed Thursday, the one they approved was described as the "Enhanced Service Model." This model aims to add to the more than 380 officers the department has with increased ambassadors, crisis interventionists and homeless outreach providers. In total, the goal is to have more than 670 staff working in the public safety arena. Metro officials estimate the plan will cost about $192.6 million annually, about $1.5 million less than Metro's current contracts with the LASD, LAPD and LBPD.

The decision comes after months of Metro trying to get a hold on the apparent rise in crime in the system. In May, the Board of Directors approved two motions to bolster public safety by deploying more officers and exploring ways to incorporate technology to prevent crimes.

The board had previously voted to expedite the acquisition and installation of driver-protection barriers on about 2,000 buses.

Also in an effort to boost safety, Metro formally rolled out a pilot program in North Hollywood that requires passengers to tap their fare card to enter and exit the subway station. 

LA County Sheriff Robert Luna, Los Angeles Police Department interim Chief Dominic Choi and Long Beach Police Department Chief Wally Hebeish all attended the meeting.

Luna expressed several concerns with the plan, including how quickly Metro will be able to hire, and upcoming events in the region which call for heightened security.

"As the county sheriff responsible for public safety in this county, I have to make sure that with the World Cup coming in, the Olympics and the (2027) Super Bowl — this is not a time to experiment with new projects," Luna said. "Public safety is too critical to do that with."

But, Luna added that if Metro goes through with the plan, the LASD, LAPD and LBPD would collaborate with Metro.

City News Service contributed to this report.