In response to KTLA’s investigation into the current conditions on the L.A. Metro, KTLA received exclusive access into their operations and what they are doing to make it safer for passengers and employees.
Also, for the first time, we are hearing from law enforcement whose job it is to patrol and police Metro’s trains and buses.
“There’s not enough of us,” said L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Kari Mercer, who patrols Metro’s trains overnight.
We asked her directly why she thinks passengers don’t feel safe. Her answer was succinct.
“Well, they’re not safe. Because you never know how someone under the influence is going to respond. Sometimes they’re violent.”
Mercer says she constantly responds to calls where people are acting violent and erratic.
“They’re speaking to themselves. They’re swinging their arms around. We get there and that person has already struck somebody,” she told us.
The L.A. Metro is patrolled in the City of Los Angeles by the LAPD, the Sheriff’s Department and Metro’s Transit Security Officers.
Officer Nicholas Romero is a transit security officer assigned to patrol Metro’s Red Line. He says they have received many complaints of people not feeling safe.
So, he said, they’ve expanded their deployments.
Nancy Felix oversees deploying law enforcement throughout the entire Metro. Recently, she increased a law enforcement presence at Union Station because of the “large number of unhoused and the mentally ill along with the drug use on their system,” she said.
The Red Line runs to and from Union Station and has seen a surge in violence including two stabbings and two murders on or near its stations. Romero said their focus is on the Red Line but they’re also expanding to buses.
In the span of one month this year, two Metro bus drivers were stabbed, including a driver in Woodland Hills over unpaid fare. In March, 23 bus and rail operators were assaulted, according to Metro safety reports. In response, law enforcement is placing transit security officers on the buses with the highest number of assaults.