An audit blasts the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for failing to reduce violent crime on Metro trains and buses and criticizes the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for weak oversight of the policing contract, it was reported Friday.
In response, transportation officials Thursday proposed new regulations to tighten oversight of the lucrative contract, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The audit, written by an outside firm and commissioned by Metro officials, said transit police have struggled to maintain a “felt presence” on Metro’s sprawling transit system, which has more than 85 miles of commuter rail tracks, dozens of train stations and thousands of buses, according to The Times.
There are fewer than 100 sheriff’s deputies patrolling the system at any given time of day, officials said during a board meeting Thursday.
The Sheriff’s Department was tasked with reducing crime on the Metro system by 8 percent a year, but total reported assaults, robberies and other crimes increased 28 percent in 2012 and 8.5 percent in 2013, according to the audit, The Times reported.
Over a four-year study period, aggravated assaults climbed 75 percent to 280 in 2013, while robberies increased 43 percent to 407, according to FBI statistics included in the study.
In a motion proposed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the MTA’S current chairman, board members Thursday asked for several new Metro staff members who would keep tabs on key contract benchmarks, including fare evasion, system safety and response times. The board also asked Metro’s inspector general to audit the transit police contract every two years.
Officials are weighing awarding a new three-year security contract expected to cost about $400 million. The transit police agreement with the Sheriff’s Department expires Dec. 31.
— City News Service