Chicago police boost mass transit presence amid crime

CHICAGO (AP) — A spike in crime on Chicago’s rail system and some recent high profile outbursts of violence has prompted the city’s police department to put 50 more officers in trains and on platforms and assign four detectives to investigate Chicago Transit Authority crimes, officials announced.

Hours after the new security plan was unveiled, Chicago police said an officer shot a man on the platform of a CTA station in the Chicago’s River North neighbourhood. Officers confronted the man after he was observed moving from car to car of a moving train, a city ordinance violation, said Deputy Superintendent Barbara West.

The wounded man was taken to a hospital where he is in critical but stable condition after surgery, West said.

Days before the announcement by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck, riders began seeing more police SWAT officers boarding trains and manning platforms on the nation’s second largest public transit system. The additional 50 officers bring the number of officers assigned to the Mass Transit Unit to 250.

The department also announced it will open a Strategic Decision Support Center devoted to the CTA this spring, similar to the ones it already has in police districts around the city. The technology centres allow law enforcement to respond to crime scenes quicker and develop crime-fighting strategies based on the data that was collected.

Four detectives and a crime analyst will be assigned to the CTA centre. They will be able to monitor in real time more than 32,000 cameras installed on every train and bus, in rail stations and elsewhere on CTA property. The department said such focus will allow officers to respond to violent crimes and thefts far quicker than they can now.

Beck said in a statement that the “technology-based policing” that helped reduce violent crime in Chicago over the past three years will do the same for the CTA.

Two Chicago Transit Authority elevated trains can be seen above Wabash Avenue in Chicago’s famed Loop. PHOTO: AP