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How does police deployment on CTA compare with other cities? The answer might surprise you

How does Chicago Police deployment on CTA compare to other cities?
How does Chicago Police deployment on CTA compare to other cities? 02:57

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There will be more Chicago Police officers on the CTA system this holiday season, according to the CPD Public Transportation commander.

But CBS 2's Tara Molina wanted to know – how many more will there be? And with violent crime plaguing our public transit, why not add more officers all year round?

Other cities were forthcoming about their police deployments, but Chicago Police refused to discuss the issue.

The Chicago Transit Authority 'L' system has 145 stations and is composed of more than 220 miles of track. The 'L' connects Chicago, and many depend on it.

But with crime and violence being a continued issue on our public transit, "dependable" probably isn't the first word those would use to describe it.

Just one week ago, CTA President Dorval Carter faced a heated Chicago City Council – whose members pressed him on what is being done to address safety and security.

No specific plan was addressed.

"The superintendent has given a number of directives to make police more visible on CTA - both in the stations and on our trains," Carter said at the hearing.

But Chicago Police won't tell us how many officers are deployed on the CTA on a daily basis - or at all. Their comment was, "We do not discuss specific deployment strategies."

According to the city's Office of the Inspector General, 41 Chicago police officers make up the Transit Security Unit.

How does that stack up against other cities?

In New York City, there are 1,000 NYPD officers deployed on public transit daily – with more to come:

"Each day, the NYPD deploys over 1000 extra officers into the transit system to keep New Yorkers safe. The recent announcement by Mayor (Eric) Adams and Governor (Kathy) Hochul will add 1200 additional tours in the Transit system in meaningfully proactive ways wherever needs arise. We focus officer deployments on priority stations and lines throughout the system. These officers are working hand in hand with the thousands of NYPD Transit Bureau officers who are assigned full-time to patrol the subway system as part of the NYPD Transit Bureau's daily mission."

New York City has more than three times as many people as Chicago and a much larger public transit system. But in Houston – which has fewer people than Chicago and has a much smaller public transit system – there are more than six times as many METRO officers as there are Transit Security Unit officers in Chicago.

The officers patrol the METRO system 24/7 and work directly with Houston Police:

"The METRO Police Department is authorized 264 uniformed personnel who patrol our rail and bus lines. Our service area covers about 1,300 square miles, and MPD works closely with multiple law enforcement partners, including the Houston Police Department, to keep our community and transit system safe.

"That is the total number of uniformed officers that METRO PD is authorized for, not the number on patrol daily...Houston PD does not regularly patrol our vehicles alongside METRO PD, but there is a collaborative relationship between the two. METRO PD provides additional offense information and related numbers monthly at our Public Safety Committee Meeting, which you can find archived on our website."

Security expert Phil Andrew noted that Chicago actually has more police officers per capita than New York City or Houston.

But Andrew said the difference in Chicago is in more than just staffing or the number of officers on the CTA. Officers in other cities are dedicated to deployments public transit.

"These are officers that are regularly being assigned to patrol public transportation, and thereby building a lot of experience and insight into the patterns - and building some muscle memory for how to do that effectively," Andrew said.

Molina reached out Wednesday afternoon to the CTA with a detailed request related to this story. On Thursday evening, she still had not heard back.

Additional information on CTA crime:

To date, there have been 560 violent crimes on CTA trains, stations, and platforms. The breakdown is:

  • Trains: 335
  • Platforms: 146
  • Stations: 79

So far this year, there have been 370 train-related robberies, 112 batteries, 59 aggravated assaults, 15 sexual assaults, and four homicides on CTA property.

Of those crimes, 105 occurred on the Red Line between Harrison Street and Cermak/Chinatown stops – or 19 percent of all train-related crimes this year.

As of this time last year, there had been 463 violent crimes – so this year would be a 21 percent increase from last year.

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