Home>Articles>LA County Sheriff Villanueva Announces Deputies Patrolling LA Metro Will Be Withdrawn in July

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva at a press conference on 4/13/22. (Photo: lasd.org)

LA County Sheriff Villanueva Announces Deputies Patrolling LA Metro Will Be Withdrawn in July

Sheriff noted that they will stay only if they are given sole control of Metro security

By Evan Symon, April 14, 2022 9:16 pm

At a press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that all deputies who patrol anywhere in the LA County Metropolitan Transit Authority would be withdrawn from duty unless the Sheriff’s department is given complete control of security.

Currently, thanks to a 2017 contract, Metro security is split between the LA County Sheriffs (LASD), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). Villanueva said that the split system has led to higher crime and more deaths because of coverage issues that arise from such a system. Specifically, Sheriff Villanueva noted recent incidents of crime and unsafe behavior, such as a homeless man pushing a rider onto the tracks and causing head trauma in March 2020A Metro operator being shot in January 2021 at the Indiana station, 4 passengers being shot by a gang at Wilmington station in September 2021, and a homeless man being killed by a train due to sleeping on the tracks in February 2022. The Metro has also struggled removing homeless people from trains, causing ridership number to be lower.

Tuesday’s Brooklyn Subway mass shooting in New York was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Villanueva, as it showed what lax security could possibly allow in other metros in the U.S., including LA.

“The events that arose out of New York City in the last few days have been alarming, and sadly it hits way to home for here in Los Angeles County because of the MTA, and specifically because of the MTA boards and their decisions, that over the course, since 2017 to the present time, they’ve been consistently aiming at degrading and defunding law enforcement, degrading the capacity of law enforcement to address crime in a proactive manner,” said Villanueva on Wednesday. “To the point now that the MTA system here in L.A. is as vulnerable as the one in New York City.”

The 2017 Metro contract is due to expire on July 1st, with Villanueva stating that all Sheriff’s deputies will leave any Metro duty after that date unless they gain sole control for Metro security.

A push for sole security control

In several Tweets, the LAPD countered that, when compared to previous years, including pre-Pandemic, there has been a 22% reduction in violent crime on the Metro, and that ridership has not fallen since the last contract.

“The safety of the MTA ridership has not wavered in significance for the Los Angeles Police Department since obtaining the MTA contract in 2017,” explained the LAPD in a series of tweets. “The men and women of the LAPD monitor trains, platforms and buses diligently each and every day around the clock. This is evident when comparing year to date pre-pandemic violent crime in 2019 to 2022 as there is a 22% decrease. This specifically translates to 47 less victims of a violent crime. We continue to collaborate with MTA, various employee unions, Amtrak and our law enforcement partners in LASD and Long Beach.”

With a new contract now likely to exclude either the police departments or the LASD, many have noted that while crime and safety are major factors at play here, so are Department numbers.

“A lot of Departments lost both personnel and funding following George Floyd, and we saw crime rates go up as a result,” explained Will Packer. a transportation security consultant and former police officer, to the Globe on Thursday. “A lot of Departments want that funding back. They want their people back. And, if a Department gets sole duty for this kind of security, that means they will need a lot more resources and support. It’s not just about that of course. Law enforcement officers really care about peoples safety and stopping crime. But it’s a major factor, and one that can be the deciding one in something like this.”

As of Thursday, LA Metro authorities have not responded to how the next contract will go for all three law enforcement agencies.

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10 thoughts on “LA County Sheriff Villanueva Announces Deputies Patrolling LA Metro Will Be Withdrawn in July

  1. The Sheriff shouldn’t do contract law enforcement. His office should be what it is constitutionally: running the jails, serving legal papers, handling evictions, and law enforcement in unincorporated areas. Law enforcement shouldn’t also run jails, and incorporated cities should be full-service cities and not contract cities.

    Metro can easily set up its own law enforcement for the non-LA/Long Beach service area. A model is BART Police.

    1. Better start carrying concealed whether you have a permit of not. I hear that many LA citizens now carry out of fear and the sheriff makes it difficult to obtain a permit to carry despite what he says

  2. Presently Metro “security” is comprised of a patchwork of LA, Long Beach, and Sheriff officers. Metro appears unconcerned about serious incidents, violent and otherwise, on the trains and the resulting reduced ridership. No officers have been allowed, as I understand it, to remove disruptive, unruly, drunk, drug-addled riders (vagrants), but instead have had to empty cars of regular passengers when there was an incident (often a violent or potentially violent one), leaving the problem riders on the train. This is obviously a ridiculous policy.

    Thus Villanueva is forcing the issue, using his clout as a popular elected official to demand “all or nothing” — full sheriff patrols on the Metro or he will pull his deputies from Metro. He has also demanded that his dept. be able to remove problem passengers instead of emptying the cars of non-problem passengers. Should he win this negotiation the Metro would actually be safer as a result of one agency in charge and these policies in place.

  3. Can’t tell from article what crime stats the Sheriff shared, but it would appear this thing revolves around the question of whether crime is up or down. Perhaps some enterprising journalist could do a little actual journalism and dig into this?

  4. There also appears to be some disagreement as to whether ridership is up or down. Perhaps some enterprising journalist could did into this and show us who is right and who is wrong.

  5. I commute on the metro about 4 days a week “C” line and the sheriffs are parked in cars and do not enforce anything on the trains. I have even seen them try to wake homeless and the person will just not respond until they leave them alone. If the sheriff do patrol 100% I want to see them enforce paying the metro fare so it’s not full of homeless in the morning just riding the train from point to point or a place for them to ride out their high. In its current state I would not let my wife ride the metro alone I don’t believe it would be safe for her. In last 6 months I have seen multiple fights, a robbery and domestic abuse. There is not an evening ride home where some is not drinking or smoking as well. I have o Ly been ask to show my tap card once and they didn’t not even verify I paid my fare. I would guess over half the people riding right now aren’t even paying.

    1. Metro does not currently allow any of the law enforcement to enforce order on the trains as a normal person would normally think of it. That is the ridiculous state of affairs Sheriff Villanueva is speaking up against and part of the change he is now demanding: That his department provide ALL (not just part of) law enforcement staff for Metro in addition to ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO ENFORCE THE LAW and bring order to the Metro system for riders.

  6. I worked for Metro during the Snoble era…the last one that had control of the homeless issues by requiring LASD officers at every rail terminal station requiring all riders to denoard for Security Sweeps. It had the side benefit of 1. Having LASD check fares and 2. Had all the homeless to get off instead of just riding all day Like a hotel. It worked until LASD wined to the Board and new CEO. I remembered the motto of the Rail chief who said to LASD that if it isn’t safe for your daughters to ride day or night then fix it at the tune of $70 million contract…it’s now been taken over by crooks and those who use it for housing and restroom. Once u lose it, it will take real commitment for firm leadership.

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