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CHICAGO (CBS) — You might see a Chicago police officer on board the next time you ride a CTA bus.
CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza reports it’s part of the city’s response to a rise in violence that we have been closely following involving the CTA.
For the first time after an unprecedented spike in CTA crime, bus operators are reporting police officers have been stationed on buses on some routes.
It comes a week after a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed on the #53/Pulaski line. In that case, there have been no arrests.
Keith Hill, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, the union representing CTA bus drivers, met with the mayor, CTA, and CPD last week after that fatal shooting on the Pulaski bus line to discuss what can be done to make bus operators and passengers feel safe.
“Operators are telling me now that police are riding the bus. Police are pulling up, checking on them. They’re sitting on a light, verbally saying something to them. The most important thing is the presence of them riding the bus,” he said.
We looked for those officers on Sunday; stood at bus stops for a while, checked multiple lines, and came up dry.
Suzette Thompson, who takes the #53/Pulaski line – the same line on which, said she hasn’t seen them either.
“No, not at all,” she said.
Thompson said crime on her bus is commonplace.
“Smoking, drinking, gambling, fighting,” she said.
On a different side of town, Bryson Causewell rides the #36/Broadway bus. He also hasn’t seen any changes.
“I do feel like they do serve a purpose, and I think they should be on the bus to serve that purpose,” he said.
We watched as several buses drove by, but didn’t spot any officers on any line.
Hill said, at his meeting with the mayor, CPD, and CTA last week to discuss what can be done to make riders and bus drivers feel safe, they had agreed officers would be on buses on troubled lines immediately.
It took a week for some movement, and even then, the deployment of officers on buses during a holiday weekend raises concerns for Hill that this presence won’t last long.
“It’s not. It can’t continue past the 4th of July weekend. I’m hoping that it do,” he said. “This presence? Talk to me after the holiday. Talk to me next week. Let’s really see after the 4th [on] Monday. Let’s see what happens Thursday and Friday.”
We did ask CTA and CPD about their plans to push this forward. They told us they would not reveal the deployment strategy.
However, we have learned bus operators and police are set to meet again this week to discuss more ways to fight crime on buses.