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.
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.
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.