Policing on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority’s buses and trains has been a contentious issue over recent months, though a vote by Metro’s board Thursday could simplify what has been a complex solution.
The board voted 11-1 to extend its ongoing contracts with the Los Angeles Police, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Long Beach Police departments while moving forward with exploring the creation of its own police force.
The vote comes amid a spike in overdoses and violence on Metro buses and trains, one factor that many believe is contributing to declining ridership.
Meanwhile, Metro is spending hundreds of millions on contracts with law enforcement agencies, even though an audit found that deputies and officers were rarely riding the trains, instead often choosing to remain in their squad cars near Metro stations.
While most of the board was in favor of continuing the current contracts while exploring the creation of a new force, Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, who also serves on the Metro board, voted against the measure.
“Metro users deserve a safe & comfortable system. We cannot handout tax dollars for services without knowing what we get in return. I voted NO on today’s law enforcement contract extension b/c we have no specific details regarding deployment & accountability for those agencies,” she wrote on Twitter.
Horvath added that her “expectation is that the negotiated contract includes strong accountability measures, a deployment strategy that makes sense, & ensures bias-free policing policies are used across all agencies” so that Metro is getting it’s money’s worth from the contract.
“Too many people are counting on us to get this right,” she wrote. “This is not too much to ask for. Approving the status quo is unacceptable.”