Watch CBS News

CTA bringing in unarmed security guards to curb crime, but will it be enough?

Will unarmed guards on CTA be sufficient to curb crime? 02:24

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Robberies, stabbings, and shootings are among the violent attacks that have been reported in the CTA system within just the last month.

Is the answer to fight these crimes bringing in unarmed security guards? The city thinks so.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, CTA riders say they feel like they're watching their backs – whether on buses or trains – and the Chicago Transit Authority expects those security guards to watch out for all issues.

But will that be enough?

As it is this year, crime on the CTA is up 40 percent. We have heard from many riders who have been victims – including Mimi Sarne, who was attacked on the Jackson Red Line platform downtown at the start of January.

"Whatever they're doing, the CTA - it's not working," Sarne said.

After riding the CTA since the 80s, Sarne said last month that she was not ready to give up completely.

"But the 'L,' until they have police down there or some semblance, I'm not going down there," Sarne said in March. "It just doesn't feel safe to me."

Extra police officers are not coming. Instead, the CTA is bringing in what they say will ultimately be a total of 300 unarmed security guards to saturate the buses and trains.

Many security guards are getting trained in de-escalation and conflict resolution.

"If there's anybody they should be teaching de-escalation training to, it's their own operators," said Keith Hill, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 41.

The CTA revealed how many guards are coming only days after a letter from U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García (D-Illinois), which insisted "more needs to be done to protect CTA's  frontline workers and passengers given the alarming increase in crime on the CTA system."

Hill still wants armed officers.

"This is a world-class city; a world-class transit, and they deserve better," he said.

The concern is not just about violence against CTA riders. Earlier this month, a CTA worker was pushed onto the Red Line tracks at the Granville stop in Edgewater.

Crews were forced to cut power to the rail in order to rescue the worker. No one was arrested, but we know there is video of the attackers.

CBS 2 pressed the CTA to release the video of those involved. Our open records request was denied, claiming, "The disclosure of this video footage would reveal the position of the cameras."

"What's more important - where you've got your cameras, or protecting the people that's taking our system?" Hill said.

So far this year, there have been 432 violent incidents on CTA buses, trains, platforms, and stations – with robbery and theft topping the crimes.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.