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What Is Being Done To Curb Violent Crime On The CTA? An Inside Look At The CPD Mass Transit Unit's Efforts

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There have been 576 violent crimes on the CTA this year, and just in the past week, CBS 2 has tracked shootings, stabbings, and beatings on CTA trains and buses and at stations.

So what is being done to make Chicago's public transit safer? CBS 2's Tara Molina sat down with the Chicago Police Mass Transit Unit to find out.

For months, we have been hearing it is to the point where people are scared to ride our buses and trains. This is why we have been tracking this rise so closely, and we are now able to bring those concerns directly to those in charge - with a firsthand look at exactly what they're doing to change the situation.

At the investigative room for the CPD Mass Transit Unit, cameras rolling on every section of Chicago's public transportation system.

"We're able to email photos out in real time to say, 'Hey, this individual is out there,'" said Mass Transit Unit Deputy Chief Matthew Cline.

Detectives and analysts work together in the investigative room to monitor about 40,000 Chicago Transit Authority cameras 24/7, every day of the year.

And while every day there is busy, some of the violent crimes we have seen on CTA property just in the past week are quite disturbing.

On Monday, there was a stabbing on a Blue Line train near the Irving Park stop along the Kennedy Expressway. This past Saturday, a bus driver was attacked and beaten in the Loop near Millennium Park. And this past Friday, three men were injured in a shooting at the Garfield Red Line station along the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The wife of another CTA operator who was injured in an attack in October also joined drivers on Friday, calling for better protection from police.

"I just would not anything like this to ever happen to anyone else," said Elsie Sessions. "It affected two boys, it affected my life, and I just want to say that there has to be a stand on protecting these bus drivers."

Drivers plan to demonstrate on Saturday at noon on Michigan Avenue.

"We're not nearly satisfied here," Cline said. "We know that there's more to do."

Molina asked Cline what he would say to people who are now scared to use our public transit.

His answer was, "We're out there, and we're going to always - especially on anything violent, that's my number one priority."

In the latest breakdown, we tracked 576 violent crimes on the CTA this year. That includes murders, aggravated assaults, non-fatal shootings, robberies, and sex assaults.

The total is up from 548 crimes the same time last year.

There have been 216 incidents on buses – a figure actually down this year – and 360 on trains.

The chart below includes all violent crimes for each year to date starting in 2015. Buses, bus stops, trains, and train stations are grouped together.

CTA Crime Stats

"Obviously, that's our number one goal is we definitely want to get those numbers down," Cline said.

It is a goal and priority he says city leaders share.

"Finding the public transportation to be safe," he said, "and I know the superintendent (David Brown) is committed to putting more resources out here to accomplish this goal."

So what kind of resources will actually help in fighting crime on the CTA, and specifically violent crime?

"I think we double down on the technology part, and we continue to expand what we are doing there," Cline said.

He said there are more undercover officers monitoring the CTA right now, but they could be doing more with dispatch and the camera network.

"We have to just focus in and be a little bit more rapid about our deployments," Cline said. "Once these crimes occur, it's finding the individual before they leave the system so they don't make that second or third crime."

The deputy chief told us police could be doing a better job of engaging the public's help and getting more information out there to you, so as to make the mission more effective.

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