Daley's charge to Rodriguez: Improve CTA safety

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.

Rodriguez 062309.JPG

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.)

Crime comparison


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  • A binder? That should certainly stop those ne'er-do-wells!

    Welcome to 1936!

  • I guess what was meant by safety was crime, not Ls derailing or going through red signals or open switches.

    You have a heck of a problem with that too, Rich, and it won't be solved with cameras.

  • These statistics will be skewed due to the recession anyway. Crime usually spikes during periods of high unemployment, although I think it is usually of the non-violent variety.

  • I shudda also mentioned that cameras didn't do much to deter shooting Blair Holt or deter the guy in the multicolored sweater who shot into the 67 bus and killed someone because someone bumped him. At least it eventually helped get guilty pleas in the first case, but they didn't prevent the two cases mentioned.

  • In reply to jack:

    "I shudda also mentioned that cameras didn't do much to deter shooting Blair Holt or deter the guy in the multicolored sweater who shot into the 67 bus and killed someone because someone bumped him. At least it eventually helped get guilty pleas in the first case, but they didn't prevent the two cases mentioned."

    What's your point? Nobody claimed that putting in cameras is some magic fix-all that gets rid of all crime so why are you mad when it doesn't have this result? It helped them convict the criminal which is better than nothing.

  • In reply to jack:

    hey,kev.thanx for the info.i'm planning on going to the budget meeting and am gonna need quite a bit of ammo,although,i'm not sure if it will do any good.



  • I don't know...is it more effective to throw the book or throw the binder at them?

    Putting it on paper in a binder is a joke.

    They ought to be looking at scanning the offenders images into a database so that they would be visible anywhere besides where the binder is stored, or working with LEOs to make sure that these folks aren't wanted by the authorities already.

    Since it seems that they farm most of their IT projects out, makes me wonder what their IT folks actually do...you could probably do what the state is thinking about and most other businesses already do which is farming out their desktop support services. Tends to save on those all important salary and benefits costs.


  • Before we get anymore scathing comments about the "binder of offenders," I need to get clarification on this. I realize my notes are incomplete, and I apologize for getting everyone's dander up. Please hold anymore fire until I clarify this. Thank you.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Kevin[Not B], how do we contact you? I just wanted to ask some questions for contacting the CTA. I called 911 to report a shells game ages ago, which really confused the dispatcher (is it really so hard to believe I'm on a moving red line?), but when I was transferred to CTA security they handled it very quickly and smoothly, but I can't find what that direct number is.

    Also, you've mentioned that Rodriguez wanted to create some sort of ways of customers rewarding CTA personal right? Did that ever happen? Some bus supervisors at Howard (and the bus terminal on Foster) managed to track down my wallet on a bus that had since changed routes and drivers, and I'm pretty damn grateful

    But for the topic at hand, do the trains have cameras? I was on a northbound red line in the middle of the winter, and in the subway the operator said something like 'will the man who is smoking please put it out and not in the train. I can see you from the cameras'

  • In reply to sargas:

    To Sargas, and others:

    My contact info can be found in two places at the top Nav bar on this page: Click on either Contact CTA Tattler or About CTA Tattler.

    I did put the email address in my ChicagoNow profile, but it doesn't show when you view the profile.

    And you can hit this email link.

    To answer your questions: I don't have a phone number for CTA security, so what you did is correct, in calling the general number.

    However, you could also try calling 911 for Chicago police. After all, gambling is a crime in progress. And the police have cops all over the system, so one mught be nearby your stop.

    I'm not sure if Rodriguez set up an awards program for employees, but I'll try to find out. Regardless, call the general number and report the good work.

    And No, there are no cameras on trains. The new ones will have them though. Perhaps he saw a guy from a platform camera get on smoking?

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Thanks, my fault for not noticing the links at the top, seems clear enough.

    Sorry if it wasn't clear, but I did call 911 at first, and they transferred me to CTA security once I explained I was trying to report scaming going on on a train. The train camera thing I still don't understand, since there isn't any tv screens I've ever noticed in those places for the operators, so I don't know how she'd be able to view the platform cameras even if that was it.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Sargas: There are a few cameras and screens on a few platforms, but certainly not very many. I'm not sure where you were when it happened, but I can think of Loyola and Sheridan with cameras because the stations go around a slight bend.

  • In reply to sargas:

    What ever happened to those cameras on the train? I remember a few purple line and red line cars had them installed, but I haven't seen them in at least 6-8 months. While I suppose the priority should be station cameras, I think this was a good idea... All the buses have them!

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I should mention that http://www.chicagonow.com/profiles/Kevin+O%27Neil probably would be a nice place for some contact info, or even a way to submit stories.

  • Maybe "a binder of offenders" is a colorful term such as "a pride of lions" or" a gaggle of geese"?
    Police officers can ride for free on the C.T.A.Maybe they have more officers ride the system to deter crime and generate some good public relations for their profession.Even a bad apple could scare some of the nuts away.

  • Like a lot of larger corporations these days the CTA should really consider getting a twitter account up and running. It would be great to let passengers easily communicate with someone at HQ on problem areas quickly. In terms of more basic safety this could be used beyond just crime but more general concerns, IE "@ctahq heavy flooding on nb stairs at grand/Milwaukee blue" or "@ctahq bus 6528 has none of its rear brake/run lights working". It would be a fast, easy way for passengers to communicate with the CTA easily from their cells.

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