When Mayor Richard Daley first tabbed Richard Rodriguez to be the new CTA president in February, he asked him to focus on improving safety on the nation's second largest transit system, Rodriguez said in an interview with CTA Tattler last week.
After a full three months on the job, results have been mixed.
A look at CTA crime stats in four major categories shows a slight 1.3% increase in assault, battery, robbery and theft, when comparing the first five months of 2008 and 2009. However, violent crime (assault, battery and robbery) spiked 7.4% in that time frame -- from 582 reported incidences in 2008 to 685 in 2009.
The one bright spot is that thefts are down this year by just over 6% compared to last year.
Of course, we can't give the "blame" (or credit) to Rodriguez. He took the reins on March 11. We'll need a longer view of stats before judging his tenure on the safety front. What matters is what he's doing now to try and make us safer on the CTA.
"In one-and-a-half years we want to have cameras at every train station," Rodriguez said. "People need to feel safe riding our system." There already are cameras on every bus.
"We're looking at getting funding for more cameras from the Dept. of Homeland Security," he added. "The goal is never to have a blank [monitoring] screen at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications."
UPDATE: Rodriguez also mentioned the CTA keeps a binder of offenders who have been taken into custody. And I got more info about that from a CTA spokesperson:
The binder was assembled for a specific meeting, but it represents information that the Security department compiles regarding people arrested for committing crimes while on CTA property.
"When investigating a crime, CTA uses security camera footage to generate a "Wanted" poster or flyer and it is distributed to the police for review at roll call and at the appropriate garages in case an Operator recognizes the person and knows where they regularly board. (Sometimes Police also release these to the media, depending on the case.) Once an arrest is made, "In-Custody" photos are generated and are distributed to the garages or rail terminals.
"The purpose is to assist the police in making their arrest and also to let employees know that the CTA is making efforts to capture and convict individuals that commit crimes (including assaulting employees) on our system."
See the continuation for crime details from 2008 to 2009.
Note to readers: This is the first of a series of posts recapping my chat with President Rodriguez.
(Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil; crime stats via EveryBlock.com.)