Crime on LA Public Transit Rises as Riders Return

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While Los Angeles public transit system has rebounded from a pandemic low of roughly 363,800 weekday daily riders to currently 843,000, the growth has been closely followed by a rise in crime, with 2021 reports of violent crimes up 25 percent from the same time last year and 9 percent from 2019, reports the Los Angeles Times. While still rare, homicides jumped from one in 2019, to three in 2020, the first full year of the pandemic and so far in 2021 five people have been killed in stations or on public transport. Robberies have dropped from the last two years, to 165, but reports of homicides, rapes, aggravated assaults and aggravated assaults on operators were higher this year during the same time in 2019 and 2020.

Following the murder of George Floyd, the Metro board of directors established the Public Safety Advisory Committee, which recommended that the board not allocate any additional funding to existing public agency policing contracts and to reallocate that money to support mental health, homeless outreach services and unarmed transit ambassadors who can de-escalate potentially violent situations. L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has clashed with Metro board members, criticizing the committee for recommending a shift to non-law enforcement alternatives which he said would only provide “an illusion of security.” Metro has recommended that the board approve funding the remaining six months of law enforcement contracts, at a total of $75.2 million, and authorize an extension of up to one year. On Dec. 2, the board will vote on whether to fund the remaining six months and extend the contracts.

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