LA County Sheriff pens Op-ed re: Metro contract

L.A. County Sheriff's Department not meeting Metro policing goals.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy performs a fare check during a patrol through a Metro train in downtown Los Angeles. (Christina House / For The Times)

Should the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department retain the lucrative LA County Metro contract, exclusively?  2 Urban Girls says “NO”.  Although the Sheriff’s department is the nations largest, there are not enough deputies to handle the extensive Metro bus and rail lines.  This author rides Metro regularly and ALWAYS sees STRONG Sheriff’s presence on the rail but NOT on the bus.  The Metro safety issues were a huge thorn of contention during the 2014 Sheriff’s election.  The Sheriff’s dept, then led by an interim Sheriff following Lee Baca’s retirement, were also criticized during the last contract period which also took place in 2014.

In July 2014 a scathing audit of the Metro safety contract found the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department failed to meet goals for reducing violent crime on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority‘s sprawling bus and rail system and been unable to adequately track emergency response times and fare evasion rates.

Related:  Sheriff candidate discusses scathing Metro audit 

The report, written by an outside firm and commissioned by Metro officials, found other management and safety problems over the last five years of contracted Sheriff’s Department service that cost the transit agency more than $365 million. The criticisms come as officials weigh awarding a three-year security contract expected to cost about $400 million.

The Sheriff’s Department was tasked with reducing crime on the Metro system by 8% a year, but total reported assaults, robberies and other crimes increased 28% in 2012 and 8.5% in 2013, according to audit data. Over a four-year study period, aggravated assaults climbed 75% to 280 in 2013, while robberies increased 43% to 407, according to FBI statistics included in the study.

Related:  $10,000 Reward for Help Finding 2 Women Who Fatally Beat Man at Metro Station

Metro is currently proposing to split the $527 million dollar contract between the Sheriff’s department and the Long Beach and Los Angeles Police Departments, which makes total sense.

The Sheriff’s department are spread thin as is.  Compton residents complain endlessly of how deputies leave their city to assist other cities when certain radio calls come in.  This leaves Compton residents with less Sheriff’s on patrol, despite paying one of the largest contract fees for their service.

By allowing local agencies to police the transit and rail lines in their city, it would allow for better enforcement and safety of passengers, like myself.  Many times I am on the bus with gang members fighting, intimidating the driver and passengers with NO sign of deputies.  The only time I visually see law enforcement on the bus is when I am traveling through Inglewood and IPD is on either the 40/115/210 lines.

2 Urban Girls agrees with the L.A. County Metro Authority board that the contract should be split amongst not only the agencies listed but each city Metro has presence in, should be monitored by the local agency.


Sheriff Jim McDonnell argues that if Metro splits the contract, public safety would be at risk.  According to the data, the Sheriff’s department played a major role in the increase of crime and have already put our safety at significant risk.

To read Sheriff McDonnell’s op-ed click here.

3 Responses so far.

  1. Robert Ray says:

    You suggest that each city provide security for the buses in their city. Problem is, many Metro buses travel through multiple cities. I don’t think this idea would be very practical. And there is no way that security can be placed on every bus. I don’t ride the Blue Line as much as I used to, but I rarely saw officers on the train. Maybe at some stations I would see them.

    • 2urbangirls says:

      Metro has the funds to provide funding to the cities where they have service.

      Security needs to be on the bus lines that have the most safety concerns. Unfortunately, per the 2014 audit, the Sheriff’s department wasn’t tracking that data.

      In Inglewood, IPD knows the trouble lines are the 115 and 210 and ride regularly, in FULL uniform. I would expect the same from LASD.

  2. Gary Daniels says:

    The comments from 2urbangirls are well-founded. Ridership is low due to the angst the public feels about crime when using the LA County transit system. Their fear is real and justified. I found it striking that Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell would invoke homeland security as a primary reason for keeping the current contract intact. Long Beach Police Department – at one time under his command – certainly felt prepared to deal with all types of problems, including homeland security.

    There seems to be a profound disconnect with what the Sheriff is saying and what the actual data reveals. The department is stretched too thin. And please this isn’t a knock on the law enforcement personnel of the Sheriff Department. This is a public safety issue. The primary role, as specified by the proposed contract, is for transit security. Homeland security is seamlessly encompassed in it and is a role taken by the Sheriff Department, regardless.

    Compton is encumbered by a charter amendment that never made sense as to why it was voted upon and implemented. It mandates that law enforcement services be provided by the Sheriff Department only. It was an ill-advised attempt to prevent the revival of Compton Police Department. At least the county can change the terms and direction of transit security while Compton can’t. Or maybe it can. This question is being put to a constitutional scholar and current law school dean with the expertise of city charter and municipal law.

    You will possibly read it first on 2urbangirls.

About 2urbangirls

2 Urban Girls has been cited in City Watch LA, Compton Herald, Daily News, Inglewood Today, Intersections South LA, KCRW, KPCC, Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, LA Watts Times, Mercury News and The Atlantic.

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