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CTA brings in unarmed security guards to fight crime, but will that be enough?

CHICAGO (CBS) — Robberies, stabbings and shootings are among the violent attacks that have been reported in the CTA system over the past month.

Is the solution to combating these crimes the use of unarmed security agents? The city thinks so.

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, CTA passengers say they feel like they’re watching their backs — whether on buses or trains — and the Chicago Transit Authority expects those security guards monitor any problems.

But will that be enough?

As is the case this year, crime on the CTA has increased by 40%. We have heard of many riders who have been victimized – including Mimi Sarne, who was attacked on the Jackson Red Line platform downtown in early January.

“Whatever they do, the CTA – it doesn’t work,” Sarne said.

After piloting the CTA since the 80s, Sarne said last month that she was not ready to give up completely.

“But the ‘L’ until they have police there or some semblance of it, I’m not going there,” Sarne said in March. “It just doesn’t seem safe to me.”

The extra police aren’t coming. Instead, the CTA is bringing in what they say will eventually be a total of 300 unarmed security guards to clog buses and trains.

Many security guards are trained in de-escalation and conflict resolution.

“If there’s anyone they should be teaching de-escalation training to, it’s their own operators,” said Keith Hill, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 41.

The CTA revealed the number of guards arriving just days after a letter from U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Illinois), who insisted that “we must do more to protect frontline CTA workers and passengers given the alarming increase in crime on the CTA system.”

Hill still wants armed officers.

“It’s a world-class city, world-class public transit, and they deserve better,” he said.

The concern isn’t just about violence against CTA runners. Earlier this month a CTA worker was pushed onto the Red Line tracks at the Granville stop in Edgewater.

The crews were forced to cut off the power to the rail in order to rescue the worker. No one was arrested, but we know there is a video of the attackers.

CBS 2 urged CTA to release a video of those involved. Our request for open recording was denied, saying “disclosure of this video footage would reveal the position of the cameras.”

“What is more important – where do you have your cameras or do you protect people who take our system?” said Hill.

So far this year, there have been 432 violent incidents on CTA buses, trains, platforms and stations – with robbery and robbery leading the crimes.


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