Metro Approves $646M Annual Multi-Agency Transit Policing Contract

Left to right, Metro security director Alex Wiggins, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell,  LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, and LBPD Chief Robert Luna testifying in support of Metro's ballooning $646 million transit policing contract. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Left to right, Metro security director Alex Wiggins, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, and LBPD Chief Robert Luna testifying in support of Metro's ballooning $646 million transit policing contract. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At today’s meeting, the Metro board approved a new five-year multi-agency transit policing contract. For the past decade, transit policing had been done by the L.A. County Sheriff Department (LASD.) Under the new contract transit policing will be done by LAPD, LASD, and Long Beach Police Department.

When the proposal first came to the board in November-December 2016, it was $547 million annually:

  • L.A. Police Department – $370 million – 68 percent
  • L.A. County Sheriffs Department – $150 million – 27 percent
  • Long Beach Police Department – $27 million – 5 percent

The contract decision was postponed at the December meeting, in order to give time for a divided board to reach a compromise position. At the time, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and several of his appointees backed a plan to give the lion’s share of the contract to LAPD. Meanwhile, most of the L.A. County Supervisors backed their County Sheriffs.

Today the compromise decision was approved unanimously, but there was a high cost for this consensus.

In the intervening months, the proposal was revised to greatly sweeten the pot for LASD. Metro’s transit policing contract ballooned $100 million from an initially proposed annual $547 million to today’s $646 million:

  • L.A. Police Department – $370 million – 57 percent
  • L.A. County Sheriffs Department – $246 million – 38 percent
  • Long Beach Police Department – $30 million – 5 percent

These combine with Metro’s in-house police ($70 million) and contracted private security ($82 million) for an overall annual policing budget totaling $797 million per year.

Their greatly increased budget brought LASD around to supporting a multi-agency approach. What had looked like a cost savings evaporated.

Though the contract was approved unanimously, several directors questioned LAPD’s plan to police Metro paying overtime to officers on their day off. LAPD chief Charlie Beck responded to these concerns stating that supervisory staff will be dedicated (non-overtime) and that, though initial deployment is substantially overtime, it will decrease over time.

Though some public testimony questioned Metro’s criminalization of low income riders of color, board discussion was largely gung-ho for police, the more the better. Directors repeated staff claims that greater police presence would make the system safer, especially for former riders who had left the system. In one especially jarring pro-law-enforcement remark, director Ara Najarian invoked yesterday’s off-duty officer incident in Anaheim in order to justify additional police presence. Najarian expressed concern that police would find themselves “hounded” and “threatened” like in Anaheim.

FFSCMetro17Feb23
Fight for the Soul of the Cities banner “1000 More Buses, 1000 Less Police”

Upon board approval, representatives from Fight for the Soul of the Cities unfurled a banner and chanted “1000 more buses, 1000 less police.” FFSC recently filed a federal civil rights complaint against Metro policing asserting Metro’s out-of-proportion arrests of blacks constitutes a violation of civil rights.

Responding to the interruption, the board briefly went into recess, as Metro’s in-house police quieted the demonstrators. Directors soon resumed the meeting and returned to business as usual.

  • CRD3

    Eric Preven, the co-author with Joshua Preven, of the article currently pinned to the top of CityWatchLA, and a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, also attended the meeting and spoke out forcefully about the problems with cops on 100% overtime…

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/751aa1e5c85f23209d3462f774637258eccbeef8454d11125bd78a573e883521.jpg http://citywatchla.com/index.php/los-angeles/12678-the-mayor-s-indecent-proposal-an-all-overtime-lapd-force-to-guard-metro

  • CRD3
  • Dwight Sturtevant

    Santa Monica PD was Left Out and they have one of the larges stations with the highest ridership

  • com63

    I’m always astonished at the resources that Metro devotes to fare evasion. At 7th/Metro basically every other morning, there are 8-12 cops checking people’s TAP cards on the way out. They are also standing ten feet away from fare gates that could be programmed to do the same task. It is mind boggling. When I ride metro, the least of my security concerns is whether other passengers have paid their fare.

  • The turnstiles are programmed to do the same task, only open if fare is paid. And with not too much more programming and perhaps some extra hardware, they could indicate to an observer what level of fare (Child/Adult/Senior) was being paid.

  • Does this mean we wont be seeing the LASD machine-gun juggling contests at LAUS anymore?

    (Boy I wish I had gotten that on a video file!)

  • Matt

    Being in the station they can also respond to issues as they arise in the station. You would care a lot about fare evasion if more people evaded fares and then the Board raised fares to cover the shortfall.

  • Matt

    Not sure if the increase goes along with increased security overall or is it just pure money going to the LASD. I know there is going to be nearly double the amount of security officers overall and the bus patrol officers are going from 6 to about 30.

    Also, I wonder how they will handle stations like Culver City? Will LASD still patrol that one station despite it being surrounded by LA on both sides? Seems really inefficient, so my guess would be no.

  • Noam.Chomsky

    So I am confused, every other news agency is listing this as $646 million over 5 years ($130 million annually), which is a 45% increase in annual cost. You, however, mention the 5 year contract, but keep stating $646 million annually.

    Am I misinterpreting something? Are you misinterpreting something?

    Or are you just lying with statistics?

  • Noam.Chomsky

    Confirmed.

    Stop lying with statistics Joe, it is unbecoming. The contract is $646,000,000 over 5 years ($130,000,000 annually) not $646,000,000 annually. I know you know that, so just be honest when reporting numbers. And I also know you probably won’t edit this article, because you have never edited any of your previous nonsense after being called out for it.

    You are currently the pedestrian/bike advocacy version of Fox News.

  • Janna Smith

    Um yea that $646 million is over 5 years, not annually. The budget went up, but not by like 700%

  • Matt

    In comparison to how Streetsblog LA has covered the policing contract other local media has taken a different angle.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bIhPyBYi1XI

  • com63

    I don’t understand. Currently the turnstiles are not programmed to require a TAP to get out of the system. I agree that they could be, but they are not currently set up that way, which is why they provide the expensive police to perform the same task “randomly”.

  • com63

    I think 1-2 officers could easily cover the whole station. Stationing a dozen to do fare checking is overkill and also diverts them from doing real security.
    I also can’t see fare evasion causing fares to go up. It just isn’t that pervasive. They should still do random checks, they just don’t need to do it every day at the same location. In the last two months, I have been checked one time on a train and more that 20 times while exiting 7th and Metro. If I was really trying to evade the fare, I would just avoid that stop. You can even peek up the stairs to see if they are checking and turn around if they are. It just isn’t an effective method.

  • neroden

    Pity the board hasn’t figured out that police in LA are the problem, not the solution.

    I know nothing about Long Beach police, maybe they’re fine, but Metro has a civil rights complaint against it already. LASD and LAPD are much worse: they are completely infamous violent crime gangs which are the major threat to law and order in the county. Giving “protection” money to violent crime gangs seems like a questionable decision on the part of the board… but hey, maybe the gangs rule the city still.

  • Alex Brideau III

    While in my observation, fare evasion is fairly common, I agree that the current enforcement method is not as effective as it could be and has the side effect of slowing down transit users during rush hours.

    Interestingly, a few months back I witnessed one or two undercover (non-uniformed) fare enforcement officers checking fares onboard the Red or Purple line. Seemed fairly effective and not as intrusive as easy-to-avoid checkpoint-style enforcement. Plus it required officers to be riding the trains themselves rather than just remaining at stations.